Nearly 200 people attended Saturday night’s candlelight vigil at City Park to pay tribute to John “Jack” Fay, who was killed at the park during his morning run on May 17.
Aside from hearing from Fay’s family, members of the community honored Fay with 90 seconds of silence. Before placing flowers where his body was found, they held candles to the sky.
“Jack, we hope you are looking down,” said Fay’s brother Gerald, who flew from Olympia, Wash., with his wife Shelia. “We miss you.”
Fay’s children, including Sean, Meaghan, Dan and Pete, said they appreciate that so many people attended the vigil. They wore shirts that featured an image of Fay running.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s a good turn out,” Dan said prior to the start of the ceremony. “This is the good side of humanity. It’s takes something bad to bring people together, but it’s still nice.”
Fay’s daughter, Meaghan, expressed similar emotions to the assembly, which gathered near the softball fields.
“It means a lot to me and my family to see how many people care and are here to show their support,” she said, “I see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of people who I would imagine enjoy the park, as well.”
Gerald began by thanking the Warwick Police Department (WPD) for their hard work on the case and the public for their interest.
“Thank you to all of you who are here tonight in the park that Jack loved so much,” he said. “My brother was a special person to all of us.”
The Fay family said the vigil had a few reasons, the top one being to honor a man who was deeply admired. While Fay’s body was found in a barrel covered by debris, the Fays don’t want him to be remembered solely for the gruesome way he died.
“We wanted to get some media attention to tell people that he was a special person and that he was loved,” Gerald said. “He did a lot of things in his life, including flying gliders. He loved to hike and he loved to run in this park. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know that until I came here after his death. I found out that this was such a special place to him and I understand now, looking around, why for 30 years he ran around this park.”
Fay was an Army veteran of Vietnam with a purple heart. Known as an athletic man who mostly kept to himself, he grew up in Providence before moving to Warwick to work as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service. He retired from the Garden City Post Office.
Family members described him as an intelligent person, who had a thirst for knowledge and earned several degrees. He was fond of math, and was attending college for yet another degree.
“But he did many other wonderful things with his life, including getting married and having four wonderful children,” Gerald said. Fay’s ex wife Annette attended the ceremony.
They also wanted to remind citizens of the pivotal role the community plays in helping solve the crime, and ask anyone with information to come forward. Gerald said his brother put up a “vicious battle” before succumbing to blunt force trauma. He was a tough 66-year-old.
Gerald also said police said the body was pulled to a brushy area covered with poison ivy. There’s a good chance whoever did the crime may have had “poison ivy that is just now clearing up.”
To further help police, Fay’s family created a Facebook page, “Justice for Jack Fay,” which, as of press time, had 240 “Likes.”
Col. Stephen McCartney, along with several officers and detectives, Senator William Walaska and many people who knew Fay were in attendance. Others were there to pay respect.
Evelyn Zaroogian, who lives near City Park, said she didn’t know Fay but she was horrified by the murder.
“I feel bad for the family,” she said. “It’s terrible that they haven’t found who did it yet.”
Maria Maslen-Lallier, who accompanied Zaroogian, feels the same.
“It’s really sad, and I wanted to support the family and show that I care,” Maslen-Lallier said.
For Fay’s neighbor, Barbara Corcoran, his murder is more personal. She was shocked, and described him as quiet, kind and considerate.
“I’ve known Jack and his family for many years, and he was an all-around nice guy,” she said. “He was a good family man who loved his kids, and he was a good neighbor. I still can’t believe it. My heart goes out to the children.”
Dan, along with Sean and Pete, appreciate the concern expressed for their father. They can’t help but wonder what caused the crime and if their father’s desire to be an advocate for others played a role. Speculating, he said, is all they can do for now.
“I wish that wasn’t the case but it is,” Dan said. “It’s very strange.”
Gerald hopes local residents are extra careful and reminded citizens not to travel the path alone.
“We all think that we’re safe, but his death tells us that we are not safe,” Gerald said. “He tells us that we have to keep an eye out for each other and it’s important to always remember that. The police keep using the word ‘targeted’ and we want people to know that that’s not the situation with my brother. He didn’t have an enemy in the world; he would never confront anyone, however, if someone were doing something, bad he would definitely step up to the plate.”
Meaghan told the crowd that her father always dreamed of visiting Ireland, something he did last summer.
“It was a really special trip – it was just the two of us,” she said. “The last night we were there we came upon [poet Brian Singleton] and he gave us his book.”
She then shared one of the poems, “The Delight of Living.” A few lines include, “Do not hide behind the tears of sorrow. The birds will sing a tune just for you, with the rhythm that accompanies the breeze.”
Through all the grief, his family said they believe Fay rests in a peaceful place. Gerald said he found another silver lining in the midst of the situation when he re-established his relationship with his niece and nephews.
“I’m so proud of the kids for sticking with this, to be sure that the public remains aware that they can help solve this crime,” he said. “We want to find out who did this to my brother.”