Close to 2,000 people – ranging from strangers to family members of the victims – gathered at the Garden of Reflection September 11th memorial in Lower Makefield Sunday evening to remember the four young men murdered on a farm in Solebury two weeks ago.
The vigil came just days after two young men were charged in the deaths of Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township; and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County. Around the same time as the Sunday vigil a week earlier, police were just beginning their exhaustive search for the four then-missing men in Solebury.
“May this candlelight vigil and our prayers be the light after darkness and bring some healing and soothing and solace to the families. That they know that we as a community are here to offer our prayers for the souls of our boys from Bucks County,” Ellen Saracini, a widow of the September 11th attacks, told the gathered crowd.
Saracini said the community would be a rock for the families as they grieve.
Rev. Leah Miller of Anchor Presbyterian Church in Wrightstown brought a message of hope.
“Pittsburgh native Fred Rogers once said, ‘when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news. My mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers,’” said said. “Today I stand here heartbroken, yet also grateful, and hopeful because I see our helpers. Bucks County has already begun to witness light flooding out the darkness.”
Rev. Pauline Sexton, the chaplain at Doylestown Hospital, told the crowd that healing after the deaths of the four young men will take the whole community.
“Each person standing here. You matter, she said. “Your presence here is important.”
Christopher Smith, the creator of the Broadway hit ‘Amazing Grace’ and a former Montgomery County police officer, performed an original song from his play. In addition, Pennsbury High School graduate and “The Voice” finalist Matthew Schuler covered Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Following the candlelight vigil, Kaitlyn Masone, who grew up with Patrick in Newtown Township, said it was comforting to see so many people come out to remember the young men. Sharing a photo of her and Patrick as kids, she added, “my heart is still broken.”
Sharon and Rich Patrick were in attendance as the community gathered to remember their grandson and the three other young men.
“We want to thank the other parents of the missing young men. These parents gave us the strength and resolve to persevere and accept the fact the victims were no longer with us,” they said in a statement distributed to reporters.
The Patricks said they remained at the 68-acre DiNardo family property along Route 202 in Solebury for days as police searched the grounds for the young men.
“My wife and I would like to thank the men and women of all the organizations who worked so long and hard to bring our boys home,” Rich Patrick said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.