Rally memorializes slain elementary teacher
Published: August 31, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - David Payne Jr. would have turned 31 on Friday.
Instead, his 11-year-old son, mother, father, sister and other family and friends gathered outside the V.I. Farrelly Justice Complex reminding the community that Payne's life was cut short when he was fatally shot on Sept. 7, 2012.
"He was the best father," said his son, David Payne III, who carried a sign reading "Justice for David Payne" outside the center.
David Payne Jr.'s family organized the "justice rally" in hopes that someone in the community might come forward with information about how David Payne Jr. was killed.
The V.I. Police Department thus far has not indicated that they have any leads in the case.
The family said they are tired of feeling like nothing is being done and feeling like no one seems to care.
"People don't do this kind of thing here," said Rochelle Payne, David Payne Jr.'s sister, who flew in from Philadelphia to participate in the rally.
The family is trying to raise $20,000 for what they are calling the "David Payne Reward Fund." The money raised for the fund would go toward a reward for anyone who identifies the person responsible for David Payne Jr.'s death.
David Payne Jr. was a sixth-grade teacher at Ulla F. Muller Elementary School on St. Thomas before he was murdered outside his home in Anna's Retreat. He had been pursuing his master's degree in education at the University of the Virgin Islands.
"A lot of people that don't have justice, they just sit back," said Laurel Ann Lake, David Payne III's mother. "People are scared to come forward, but I know there's people out there who know what happened."
In an effort to find those people, the family stood outside the Farrelly Justice Complex wearing bright yellow shirts with David Payne Jr.'s name and the Star of David, David Payne Jr.'s favorite symbol. They smiled, waved, held posters, and, as drivers passed, shouted "In memory of the teacher who was shot," and "Remember David Payne Jr."
While they are not sure whether it will help, the group plans to gather regularly to let the community know that the family will not allow the public to forget about David Payne Jr.'s murder, and they will not allow it to go unsolved. They hope that the public will take notice and join their effort to put more pressure on the justice system and the community to take responsibility for the crimes that are committed under their watch.
"All I want is justice for my son," said Blanche Frazer, David Payne Jr.'s mother. "I want the Justice Department to hunt that person down and prosecute them."
Frazer, who lives just up the street from the Farrelly Justice Complex, has a banner that reads "Justice for David Payne Jr.," which she hangs on her front porch every single day. On Friday, the banner was accompanied by bundles of balloons. The family, after their rally in front of the justice complex, walked to his grave and released 31 yellow and white balloons in honor of his birthday.
"Today, he would have been in his classroom, not in the cemetery," Frazer said.
For more information about David Payne Jr. or the reward fund in his honor, visit http://davidpaynerewardfund.org/
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email email@example.com.