I had a lovely telephone conversation yesterday afternoon with John Polec, who was grateful for and touched by the words of support posted by readers in response to my blog post about the 15th anniversary of his son Eddie's funeral. John said his family is happy and doing well - there are now grandchildren in the Polec clan, and they bring joy every day to the family. Beyond that, he declined to speak about Eddie's case and its aftermath.
On a separate note, reader Pattye Stringer shared with me this memory from 1994, related to Eddie's friends, whom she happened upon the day after his death. She has allowed me to reprint it here:
"Dear Ronnie," it begins, "Your column on the 15th anniversary of the murder of Eddie Polec brought back many memories.
"First, some background; I live in Burholme, a little neighborhood just below Fox Chase. I am not a member of St. Cecilia’s church, but I certainly know it as a landmark.
"My mother died in March of 1994, but her birthday was in November. On the Sunday closest to her birthday in November 1994, my husband and I paid a birthday visit to her grave. On the way back, we passed St. Cecilia’s.
"We knew at once that something unusual was going on. There were several casually dressed teenagers on the church steps and in the parking lot, all sitting on the ground, very still.
"In a moment, we realized what we were seeing. This was a crime scene. Eddie Polec’s friends were holding an impromptu vigil for him.
"My husband stopped the car. We got out and surveyed the scene. There were perhaps ten young people, all dazed, some weeping. Each of them had some item of remembrance— a candle, a photograph, a baseball cap.
"I didn’t know Eddie Polec, but I was so overcome with emotion that I knelt down beside a young woman and began reciting the Episcopal prayer I’d offered on the day my mother was buried: “Oh God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother (sister) Eddie, we thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends, to know and love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage…”
"I was too emotional to complete it (and probably didn’t get that far at the time).
"I improvised an ending and got up. I never spoke directly to any of Eddie’s friends. I just wanted them to know that I was just as outraged as anyone who actually knew him.
"I still pass St. Cecilia’s often, and wonder what became of those kids holding vigil. I wonder if they remember the middle aged Protestant woman who offered some of her tradition for a young man she never knew."