Despite cold weather and icy conditions, Pleasantville firefighters once again came together in Graham Hills Park on Monday night to remember their former comrade Thomas Dorr.
Friends and co-workers gathered for the vigil in front of a tree planted in memory of their fallen friend, marking 19 years since Dorr was found murdered in the park on Jan. 7, 1996.
“It’s 19 years and we’re hoping that we can bring this to some type of conclusion, find some kind of closure, but it is a tribute to him that both the Pleasantville Fire Department and the White Plains Department of Public Works every year, there’s quite a significant turnout, even if people now haven’t even met him,” said Joseph Nicoletti, who worked with Dorr for 10 years at the White Plains DPW.
Dorr was near his Pollywiggle Road home feeding the wild turkeys on the day of the murder. Following the outing, the 50-year-old intended to walk to the Washington Avenue firehouse to join other volunteers on standby during a blizzard, but never made it. When firefighters learned Dorr was missing, they began a search. His body, beaten and stabbed, was found the next morning.
Dorr’s murder remains unsolved almost two decades later, and is one of two homicides in the village that are open cases. In October, Linda Falkoff was stabbed to death in her Grandview Avenue home and police have yet to make an arrest in that case.
Despite two unsolved incidents in a village that has been considered one of the safest municipalities in the state, residents are not concerned.
“I don’t think people are very much afraid, it’s still a very safe community,” said resident and firefighter Brian McGowan.
Although many of the firefighters at the vigil joined the department after Dorr’s murder, those who remember the incident say it is common knowledge that Dorr’s wife and stepson have long been suspected in the murder.
“I think the police know very well who did this, they just can’t get the information to put them behind bars,” said Pleasantville Fire Department Commissioner John Brooks.
Captain Chris Calabrese of the Westchester County Police Department confirmed that Dorr’s wife and stepson are still suspects in the case, but there is little evidence to pursue the lead. He noted that the two moved to Connecticut shortly after Dorr’s death and requested a lawyer and became uncooperative when questioned about the crime.
“We are continually looking at this case,” Calabrese said. “It’s very frustrating having very good leads on who actually did this and who was involved but still not having any evidence to go forward.”
Calabrese said information from the public is crucial to the case, and urged anybody with a lead to come forward and leave an anonymous tip at WCPDtips.com. The $2,500 reward for information, which was announced last year, remains in place.
“Sooner or later somebody will say something. Somebody knows; it’s no secret who did it,” said Brooks. “Somebody had to talk to somebody else and sooner or later they’ll give those guys the right word and we’ll catch the person.”
While everyone in attendance hoped they will not have to meet again next year, they shared fond memories of Dorr Monday night.
“I was with the department less than a year when this happened and I remember being with him,” said firefighter John Thys. “He took me under his wing, showed me the ropes and he took a special interest in me and I thought that was fantastic.”
Many remembered Dorr, standing at 6-foot-6, as a “gentle giant” who was soft spoken but always eager to share his opinion or knowledge on a subject when asked.
“He was the kind of guy who would take an interest from day one and would share whatever information he could, would give you his opinion on things, but [he was] just out to do the best thing, not just for the public, but for everybody that he worked with,” McGowan said.