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Middletown comes together for vigil to remember double murder-suicide victims

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 1/9/19

It was too way windy for candles.

But tonight’s bitter cold didn’t prevent about 60 people from coming together in downtown Middletown, to remember the three people who died in a …

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Middletown comes together for vigil to remember double murder-suicide victims

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It was too way windy for candles.

But Wednesday’s bitter cold didn’t keep about 60 people from coming together in downtown Middletown, to remember the three people who died in a murder-suicide last week — Marvin Caddell, Nightflower Staats, and their 7-year-old son, Joaquim.

George Crist, who owns the building at 134 S. Union St. in Middletown where a double murder-suicide took place last week, discusses why a vigil was held Jan. 9.

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The front steps of the apartment building at 134 S. Union St. where the family lived was covered with stuffed animals. Balloons of different colors were tied to the stair rail.

Allen Thomas taped to the front door of the building a hand-written sign he had made on large green fluorescent poster board, reading, “RIP Marvin & Family You Need to Know You Were Loved … Big Al.”

Middletown police discovered the three bodies inside their apartment on Saturday night, Jan. 5. Police had been dispatched to the apartment shortly after 8 p.m., after being requested to check on the family by a pastor who was concerned over them not having been seen for several days.

Caddell, 48, is suspected of killing the two before turning the gun on himself, authorities say. The double homicide-suicide took place “approximately” on Wednesday, Jan. 2, according to a press release from Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick.

A vigil service was held Jan. 9 at 134 S. Union St., Middletown, for victims in last week's double murder-homicide. People stayed afterward to eat chili and drink hot chocolate, and to talk with one another.

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On Wednesday night, people stood in small groups close to one another, talking and mingling on the sidewalk in front of the building, and in the street.

Middletown police parked their cruisers with lights flashing to block traffic on both ends of the block.

A number of borough police officers were standing by throughout the event. Officers handed out to children stuffed animals, many of which were placed on the stairs of the front entrance where 7-year-old Joaquim had lived just a short time ago.

George Crist, who owns the apartment building, came up with the idea to hold the vigil, and organized the event.

Standing in front of his building, he invited the cold bystanders to warm themselves with some free “famous chili” cooked up and served by his fiancee, Sara Fox.

Crist also had free hot chocolate and coffee, cornbread and soup for all who had come out to remember the slain family.

The couple are getting married on Jan. 19, Crist said.

“The light beats out the darkness every time,” he told those who came to the vigil. “We don’t have the candles to show it, but we’re here. It only needs to be present, like you guys are tonight.”

“This bad thing happened and we can’t change that, but we can respond to it. We can respond to it by supporting one another, we can respond to it by being closer as a community,” Crist said.

Crist had invited his pastor, the Rev. Catharine Senft Geib from the Tree of Life Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, to speak.

Geib read some passages from the Bible and led the group in prayer, closing with the Lord’s Prayer.

“We are here tonight to remember the lives of Marvin Caddell, his wife Nightflower and their 7-year-old son Joe,” Geib said. “It is a terribly tragic case of three lives that are taken by a disease that we don’t completely understand. While happiness seems far away at this time, nevertheless we can live in hope that wounds will be healed, and that these three individuals are now healed. No more pain, and no more tears.”

The family had lived in Crist’s building less than a year. They weren’t from Middletown, but had made a number of friends during their short time here, many of whom came to the vigil.

At least half a dozen had worked with Nightflower at Guardian Transfer, a title search company in Shiremanstown. Nightflower had worked there for several months, said Christine Buffington, one of the co-workers at the vigil.

“We came out in support for her and her son,” Buffington said. “Every last one of us were in shock. We felt deeply saddened for her and her family.”

Thomas, who brought the sign, worked at the same grocery store as Marvin. He was “a good friend, a very good friend. Do anything for anybody.”

“Who am I to judge” about what happened, Thomas said. “I can’t judge nobody. The only one who judges is God.”

“It could happen to me, it could happen to anybody … he had a lot on his mind,” Thomas said of Caddell. “He was a good guy. I didn’t want to see him go out like that, but who am I to judge?”

Steven Glessner said he grew up in the same apartment building — in the apartment next to where the family lived and died.

As he looked up at the building, he struggled to comprehend what had happened, so close to where he had grown up, and why. He searched for answers, but had none.

Glessner had moved back to Middletown about a year ago. He works at Karns.

“I knew them as customers,” Glessner said of Caddell and his family. “I would see them a couple times every week, at least once a week. Going from seeing them to then reading about it in the news …. it just hits home. It’s hard to believe in my eyes something like this could happen, especially when there is a young kid involved. It’s just hard to believe something like this could happen.”