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Justice for Garrett reward fund tops $10K

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POTSDAM - Three weeks ago, Brian A. Phillips created the Justice for Garrett reward fund, hoping it would reveal his slain 12-year-old nephew’s killer.

While Garrett J. Phillips’ murderer remains at large, the fund has swelled to more than $10,000, a sum Mr. Phillips said he’s pleased with.

“I’m hoping that if there’s enough money there might be someone who knows something who will speak out and bring the killer to justice,” Mr. Phillips said, thanking donors for their support.

Garrett, who was a sixth-grade student at A.A. Kingston Middle School in Potsdam, was found strangled Oct. 24 at North Country Manor Apartments, 100 Market St. Neighbors reported hearing screams and cries for help, and he was pronounced dead at Canton-Potsdam Hospital that evening.

While police officials have yet to make substantial public comment, they have stated the investigation is being focused on one person. In January, Oral “Nick” Hillary, men’s head soccer coach at Clarkson University, filed a notice of claim against the village, stating he had been wrongfully named a suspect.

Efforts to increase the reward fund are underway. Signs sporting Garrett’s face and donation information have been placed around the village, and motorcyclists will gather on Aug. 25 for a memorial ride, Mr. Phillips said. The ride will begin and end at the Parishville Fireman’s Field.

Justice for Garrett T-shirts, featuring a design created by Garrett’s 14-year-old cousin Brooke Collins, can be purchased for $10 from the Phillips family at 262-2405. All profits are donated to the reward fund.

“I just drew a sketch of my cousin on a sad day, and I wished I could call him up,” Ms. Collins said of what ultimately became the shirt’s design. “I was hoping someone would step forward so I could get justice for my cousin.”

Rita Millage, 58, of Lisbon said she has noticed the community-driven reward campaign around the area. She suspects the information that could lead to an arrest is hiding somewhere.

“There’s got to be somebody else besides the person who did it that knows something,” Ms. Millage said. “[The fund] might encourage somebody to turn them in.”

While she called the case “unbelievable” and the lack of resolution “disheartening,” Ms. Millage remains hopeful the killer will be identified.

“If it’s someone important in the community, it’s surprising what money can buy sometimes,” she said.

Those interested in donating to the reward fund can contact Duane Curtis at 276-6069 or Mr. Phillips at 244-0817.

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