UPDATE: Capt. Robert Nelson of the Warwick Police Department announced Tuesday evening that the victim defended himself. As a result, the assailant might have injuries consistent with being involved on a violent attack. Police are not commenting on possible suspects or motives but are stepping up patrols on all three shifts to find the killer. They are also advising the public to stay out of City Park between dusk and dawn.
The Warwick Police Department is investigating the homicide of John “Jack” Fay, 66, a retired postal worker and avid runner, after his body was found in a trash barrel along a bike path at City Park Saturday morning.
Detective Capt. Robert Nelson said Fay, who lived on Guilford Drive in Warwick, frequented the path for use as a running trail and was likely attacked and killed in the park between late Thursday evening into Friday not far from the location his body was discovered.
According to the city’s Board of Canvassers, Fay has been a registered voter since 1974.
Michael Bergevine was at City Park warming up to play in a softball tournament Saturday when he learned of the incident. Bergevine, who grew up in Warwick, said his team was about to play ball on Field 3 between 10:45 and 11 a.m. when umpires informed players there would be a game delay because a body was found close by.
“At first, we thought he was kidding,” Bergevine said. “We had played a game at 9 a.m.”
Around noon, said Bergevine, players were asked to leave the fields.
“There was a police officer near the area telling everyone they needed to turn around and go a different route,” he said.
Police, who say this is the fourth homicide in Warwick this year, responded to the scene around 10:30 a.m. Investigators, along with police dogs, searched the park.
“I saw a few detectives and some of the police officers searching the area for clues and any evidence they could find,” said Bergevine. “I never saw the body, but I could see the barrel from the dugout.”
Erica Caligiuri, a teacher from Cranston, was walking at the park Saturday morning with a friend when a man approached her. He told her the path was closed because police found a body.
“We weren’t really sure if it was true or not,” said Caligiuri, who stayed at the park and continued her stroll. “When we left we didn’t think anything of it until we saw something posted from one of the news stations and it hit us that it was true. I feel terrible that it happened.”
Despite the grim news, Caligiuri said she plans to return to the park.
“I love the route, but I will always make sure someone comes with me or run with someone near me,” she said.
On Sunday, the park had visitors but with a visible police presence. Nicole Brouillette said she will continue to make trips to the park with her children and dog, but doesn’t plan on going alone. Her friend, Debbie Ross of Pawtucket, said that’s probably a good idea.
“I think it’s wise to stay with a group,” Ross said.
While people await details of how Fay was killed, Nelson published a photo of Fay and a continuing appeal to possible witnesses to contact police. Results of the Medical Examiner’s autopsy were not available when the Beacon went to press yesterday.
Anyone who has information about the crime is asked to call Sgt. Mark Canning at 468-4236 or the TIPS line at 732-8477 or 468-4233.