Where 15 years ago a family was torn apart and a quiet community’s peace punctured, there now lies a permanent memorial.
The Warfel family in Edgewater Park finally has an approved memorial stone dedicated to their son A. James Warfel — known to friends as “Jamie” — who was stabbed and killed in the neighborhood after a Labor Day party in 1998.
A decade and a half later, family, friends and neighbors gathered Saturday, August 9 to unveil the permanent — and co-op sanctioned — memorial on the E Ball/Track Field.
“Let this memorial encourage the youth to look within themselves and ask what they can constructively do to improve their lives, to prepare for a happy and successful future,” said Alwin Warfel, Jamie’s father, at the tear-filled stone unveiling.
Senseless murder rocked nabe
Jamie Warfel was 22 when he was stabbed to death in the early hours of September 6, 1998, during a fight that escalated from an insult, according to the Bronx district attorney’s office. He was set to return to New York University for his senior year studying political science, and was described by neighbors, and by this newspaper, as an “angel” with a bright future.
“SENSELESS MURDER: Weekend stabbing claims the life of a young hero,” ran the headline in the Sept. 10, 1998 edition of the Bronx Times Reporter.
Prosecutors convicted Louis Marino, who lived nearby, of the murder in 2002, after witnesses came forward years after the killing.
Marino, who was two weeks under 16 at the time of the stabbing, was tried as a child. He served five years at Queensboro Correctional and was released on parole in 2008.
Squabble over past memorials
The day after the 1998 murder, friends and family set up a memorial at the stabbing site.
But after a longstanding tussle with the cooperative board, the memorial was removed in 2007.
Warfel said he was greatful that the board of directors had signed off on the memorial stone — located near the community’s new track, a couple hundred feet from the stabbing site — this time around.
“It helps to heal some of the animosity that has built up over the years,” he said.
Attempts to reach several ranking members of the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative to confirm they had approved the memorial were not returned. Messages left at the office were unanswered by deadline, though a reporter was told that the co-op property manager was on vacation.
Warfel stressed that the co-op board did give him permission.
“We had to have the approval of the co-op before any of this was done,” he said.
So far, reaction from his neighbors has been positive, he said.
“My gut is that most decent people in the park would support this,” said Warfel. “You can’t erase history, but you can put it in the proper perspective.”