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No tips despite $25K Justice For Garrett reward

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POTSDAM— Despite a month and a half of fundraising and a reward approaching $25,000, no tips, leads or whispers have been generated by the Justice for Garrett reward fund.

While Brian A. Phillips, uncle of the slain 12-year-old Garrett J. Phillips, admitted growing disappointment, he vowed to keep adding to the reward.

“I was hoping that by this time somebody would’ve opened up and said something,” Mr. Phillips said, wearing a shirt bearing a likeness of his nephew’s face. “I’m not going to throw my hands up and say ‘$25,000 is enough.’ It might need $30,000. It might need $40,000. As long as the people are helping and supporting this fund, it’s going to keep going and maybe we’ll get somebody to talk.”

Garrett, a sixth-grader at A.A. Kingston Middle School, 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 later that evening at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

Just shy of nine months after the killing, Mr. Phillips said frustration is mounting.

“I’m getting discouraged and a lot of the family is getting discouraged,” he said. “It’s hard not to get discouraged after nine months.”

The investigation remains ongoing. Potsdam Police Chief Kevin A. Bates declined to comment about the case or the reward fund.

Mark Dalton, 29, of 37 Judson St., began displaying a Justice for Garrett yard sign outside his Canton home days after the fund was created.

“The legal system has fouled the Garrett investigation,” Mr. Dalton said, though he declined to elaborate on specifically how. “It’s a matter of standing for what’s right and not letting the youth of America come under attack and the suspect let free.”

Police have remained largely silent about the investigation, and have advised the family to do the same. This, Mr. Phillips said, hasn’t been easy.

“It’s harder to be patient now when you’re forced to be patient,” he said. “I do still believe the police are working on it daily. As long as the case is moving forward, that’s all we can hope for.”

The only substantial news came in January, when Oral “Nick” Hillary, men’s head soccer coach at Clarkson University, filed a notice of claim against the village of Potsdam, saying he had been wrongfully named a suspect in the investigation.

Mr. Dalton said his sign delivers a message to his neighbors, who have young children.

“They know that we’re not going to tolerate people causing fear, angst and agony,” he said.

Mr. Phillips said he plans to keep the reward fund open for two years. The vast majority have been donations less than $100, but an anonymous $5,000 gift and a $2,000 donation recently have helped the fund grow.

Though he hopes the fund will go to someone providing information that leads to an arrest, the money will be donated in Garrett’s name if that never happens, Mr. Phillips said. A family conversation would be necessary, he said, but possible recipients include services protecting Potsdam youth or local hospice care.

“The support from the community has been super,” Mr. Phillips said. “It’s not just here in Potsdam or Canton. It’s seemed to spread out of the county.”

He reported that more than 1,400 signs are being displayed and said he’s seem them as far from Potsdam as Watertown, approximately a 90-minute drive, and Malone, roughly a 40-minute trip.

Mr. Phillips did say that some signs have been stolen, including a wave of 10 removed from the Stockholm area over the weekend.

“To whoever is stooping low enough to steal these Justice for Garrett signs, put yourself in our shoes,” he said. “It’s pretty low.”

Final details for an upcoming Justice for Garrett motorcycle ride and benefit event also were released.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Aug. 25 at the Parishville hall, followed by the 130-mile ride at 10 a.m. The cost per rider is $20, and $10 per passenger, which includes a meal.

The benefits runs from 4 to 9 p.m. at Parishville Hall, costs $8 including a meal and will feature live music, face painting and a raffle.

Donors can call Mr. Phillips at 244-0817 or Danielle Harper at 222-3623.

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