Monday I attended a memorial for David Glasser at Price Memorial AME Zion Church, where 40 or so friends gathered for a service in remembrance of his life.
Despite worldwide media coverage of the circumstances of his death, and that of his friends Robert Chadwell Edward Frampton, I discovered Glasser’s name is still not recognizably familiar to many Pittsfield residents. As for myself, his name and face are pe etched in my mind, perhaps permanently, despite having never met the man.
It bears repeating, then, that these three men were slain three months ago in what by all accounts so far is arguably the most horrific crime committed in this community in two decades.
“He was an unpretentious, trusted to friend to many, and remained true and faithful until the end of a very difficult period of his life,” said Pastor Will Durant “But what we have to remember that that’s all it was, it was a period of life. It does not in any way diminish who we was.”
“I don’t know that many of us have as many newspaper articles written about them in their life as David did in one year of his life.”
All of this gave me pause to consider the day I first got to know the name David Glasser.
For me, it all began with a call from a friend of a friend, that a small army of police had blocked off Potter Mountain Road between Hancock and Pittsfield. This was September 4, a week after Hurricane Irene. I vividly recall hobbling around the road closure on a sprained ankle on a rainy Monday morning chatting up the officers to no avail; so vividly it’s as though it happened last week.
A press release from the DA’s office a couple of hours later connected the massive search I witnessed around the State forest with an earlier bulletin we’d run on iBerkshires. At this time the only mention of these three men had been the briefest media bulletin from the DA’s office that 3 men had gone missing, poorly and confusingly phrased, as though their disappearance was in some way connected to the storm.
Over the course of that afternoon I started Googling and began to comb LexisNexis, stumbling into a trove of mentions of David Glasser. I think over the course of that day myself, various Eagle staff, and other interested parties put together essentially the same theory that, although not confirmed until a couple weeks later, was law enforcement’s working theory from the very beginning. Indeed, a cursory search of news coverage easily uncovered the entire year’s worth of articles to which Reverend Durant referred. The whole sorry story of escalating conflict between Glasser and the primary accused, Adam Lee Hall, plays out within and between the lines of those news items.
Like everyone, I made certain assumptions, characterizations of everyone involved that are hard to avoid when all you know of people is what you’ve heard and what you read. Unlike some, I never lost a sense of the magnitude of the tragedy of what happened. Tragic from the very beginning, because long before the announcement came that the bodies had been found, all you had to do was look into the faces of certain friends and relatives of either the victims or the accused and you just knew that something brutally final had happened, that those men were never going to be found alive.
Worse, in many ways, was the seemingly muted, at times even mocking, reaction from the community overall. This was nothing like the terror, shock and outrage I remember over Lewis Lent, with the disappearance of Jimmy Bernardo and attempted kidnapping of Rebecca Savarese. It didn’t even resemble a fractional version of that, almost the opposite to some. As one commenter put it, “What’s the big deal? So some bikers took out some crackheads. Good riddance all around.”
I remember how truly sad, and embarassed, and ashamed I felt for Pittsfield when I read that comment. This was repaired in some measure by the backlash of responses from those who stood up to this naive and over simplistic view, residents and friends of David’s who depicted a different view of the man, a caring, helpful friend who did more good than harm, despite facing a lot of challenges and demons.
The picture that emerged of David, who was a frequent volunteer at the Christian Center and known to many throughout that neighborhood, was of a rather frail man, a man who had no doubt made some mistakes in his life, but nothing that anyone can sanely say merited or invited this horror upon himself. This was not a dangerous man, or common thug. This was not in a person that a couple of years ago could have reasonably expected to be swept up into a situation where he and two of his friends would be brutally massacred and buried in a gory pit in Becket. There is simply no sane way to spin what happened here as a case of “they had it coming.”
Not that I claim to know exactly what happened. We can’t even hope to know the complete story of what happened until the trial begins, and perhaps not even then.
I just know that I can’t help be haunted by what has happened, and I know there are others that feel the same way. I can only hope that as the steps of this process continue on through memorials to trials, some greater sense, some type of closure emerges.