But friendships were important to Seth, his grandparents say, which is why he went to West Park on a Sunday afternoon last month. It was close to the K-Mart and the fast-food restaurants where his friends liked to hang out.
Accounts vary as to what happened next. There was a confrontation, according to the police. Four or five teens started to follow Seth, and he called his mother asking her to pick him up. She later told Jim and Judy that he sounded scared.
But Wendy was studying at the time. She had been taking classes in Bakersfield, hoping one day to be a paralegal. She had grown accustomed to hearing fear in his voice and told him to walk home. It was less than a mile.
Not long after, he called again, and she agreed to meet him. When she arrived, she saw a group of teens, some of whom started to walk away. According to his grandparents, he was especially hurt that one of his friends who was there did nothing to help him.
Once home, Wendy went back to her studies. Seth took a shower and later asked his mother for a pen. His younger brother, Shawn, was playing on the computer.
At some point, Seth had gone to the backyard. When Wendy took a break for a cigarette, she saw that he had hanged himself from a tree.
Police officers arrived; they found him on the ground, unconscious and not breathing. One began CPR, and within half an hour Seth was in a helicopter heading for the trauma center in Bakersfield.
Wendy gave the suicide note to the police.
Eight days later, on Sept. 27, the doctors declared Seth brain-dead. Arrangements were made for organ donation, and he was eventually taken off life support. His family gathered to say goodbye.
As they started to prepare for a memorial, they discovered that Seth's MySpace page had been defaced with pornography and demonic symbols.
The memorial was held at First Baptist Church, just across the street from Seth's home. More than 570 people crowded into the small building. A hundred waited outside.
The memorial program included lines from Seth's MySpace page. "I hate the word flagellum…. I have a thing for space…. I haven't had a guy friend since the second grade…. I like bugs…. Birds disgust me."
"We are here to celebrate Seth's life," the pastor, Ron Barker, began, "and not the circumstances that may have led to his death."
There was a montage of photos of Seth, his family and friends. The father of a childhood friend offered his memories.
Barker read a eulogy written by Wendy, and Shawn stood up to deliver his own impressions.
"I loved Seth…. I always wanted to protect him but he would say, 'Don't, I don't want you to get hurt' and those were the moments I loved, when he would protect me. … Out of all the times I would say 'I'll beat 'em up for ya,' I really couldn't, wouldn't. I'm not a fighting person nor was Seth …"
Afterward, 13 doves were released into the sky.
The Tehachapi Police Department have received e-mails, mostly anonymous. Some refer to Seth's suicide as murder; others question why charges haven't been filed. Police say they are investigating accusations of assault, battery and criminal threats.
"We would like to bring some closure for Seth's family and be able to give a clear-cut answer as to whether there was any criminal behavior," says Police Chief Jeff Kermode. "We have some confirmation of activities, but nothing to take to the D.A. and bring criminal charges."
The school district has come under criticism. The principal at Seth's school has received threatening messages and e-mails from people around the country who feel that the school did not do enough to protect Seth from the bullying.
The school is reviewing its records in an attempt to corroborate the family's claim that reports had been filed of Seth's harassment by other students. The superintendent of the school district, Richard Swanson, met with a representative from a Kern County gay and lesbian group to assess the campus programs designed to encourage tolerance.
Their conclusion was that the district's measures were fairly thorough — quarterly assemblies on behavior, field trips to the Museum of Tolerance, discipline procedures for bullying, security cameras on campus — though they didn't prevent Seth's death.
"Maybe they couldn't have," Swanson wrote in an e-mail. "The incident occurred off-campus, on a Sunday, and is part of a larger community issue."
The Walsh family is trying to make sense of the tragedy. They are wondering what to do as the holidays approach. Perhaps they'll set a place at the table for Seth. They aren't sure.
For now, though, there is disbelief.
"I had no idea there was that much pain inside of him. He was a sweet kid who found the world cruel," Judy says, "but he didn't understand cruelty."