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Remembering Torin: Documentary looks at MAHS grad killed in 2019; film has family's support

By Dan Miller

Posted 4/8/20

A film documentary telling the story of Torin Dworchak, the 2019 Middletown Area High School graduate who was murdered in Harrisburg on Sept. 4, is being released Friday.

Titled simply …

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Remembering Torin: Documentary looks at MAHS grad killed in 2019; film has family's support


A film documentary telling the story of Torin Dworchak, the 2019 Middletown Area High School graduate who was murdered in Harrisburg on Sept. 4, is being released Friday.

Titled simply “Torin,” the documentary is the work of Eli Greene, a filmmaker who lives in Steelton.

Running about one hour and 25 minutes, the film has interviews with Torin’s mother, Heather Bernola; along with other members of his family such as his grandmother, sisters and his stepfather.

Also appearing in the film are many of Torin’s friends from Middletown Area High School, Greene said.

The film also contains video clips of Torin, including some of the ones he made of himself singing and dancing.

The making of the film has had the full support of Torin’s family, Bernola told the Press & Journal in a telephone interview on April 1.

“It’s important to us as a family, because Torin was a very special person and not everybody got to see that side of him. His family and his close friends did. I think this documentary is going to reflect just how special he was,” Bernola said.

“We also want to shed a light on gun violence and how senseless it is, and how it affects not just the person that is shot, but the whole family, so we are hoping that the public sees everything in all aspects.”

Greene said the film also shows “how beautiful and kind Torin was,” and how he dealt with being bullied.

“He was bullied a lot in his teenage years,” Bernola said of Torin. “He didn’t let it get to him. He just kind of overcame it and remained positive. To me, that is an inspiration and it might be something that another person is going through that they can watch this documentary and say, ‘This guy did it — I can do it, too.’ It could be influential to somebody, especially to a younger person who has nowhere to turn to.”

Greene, who grew up in the Harrisburg area, met Torin because he was a friend of one of Greene’s nieces. However, he did not know him well.

“I went to her house a few times he was there. He was very energetic, very funny. How he was just murdered was just tragic,” Greene said “I felt compelled to do something. I just couldn’t get it off my mind. I knew I had the ability to tell the story.”

Greene also was bullied while growing up, and thought that telling Torin’s story would help others in the same situation.

Greene waited about a month after Torin was killed to reach out to his family. After getting their blessing, Greene reached out to Christine McLarty, a reporter for WHTM abc27 news, who had been the first reporter at the scene when Torin’s body was discovered on the grounds near the National Civil War Museum by a bus driver.

McLarty aired a segment on Greene doing the film, which led to Greene raising more than $5,300 through GoFundMe to support making the documentary.

“It was coming from everyone,” Greene said of donations for the film. “From people of the Middletown community, from Torin’s family, my friends and family, the whole community.”

Greene hoped to include McLarty in the film, but she had left the area for a TV station in Florida. The bus driver is included in the film.

Greene said the film touches on Torin’s relationship with Tyrese Andre Randolph, one of the two Harrisburg men charged with murdering Torin.

Greene said Torin and Randolph had been friends for more than a year. Torin would give Randolph rides and help him out with money. “Torin was always there for him.”

On Sept. 4, Torin contacted Randolph about meeting up with him, according to arrest papers filed by Harrisburg police.

After Torin arrived at Randolph’s residence in the first block of Thomas Street, another man whom Torin didn’t know — Nathaniel Gabri Acevedo, who was 20 at the time — pointed a gun at Torin and robbed him.

Acevedo then forced Torin into the trunk of his own car. Acevedo and Randolph then drove off in Torin’s car, with him still alive in the trunk.

Acevedo drove the car to an unknown location in Bellevue Park. He stopped the car, got out, opened the trunk, and fired two shots, killing Dworchak, according to police. Acevedo returned to the car later that night and drove it to the grounds of the museum, where Torin’s body was found just after 7 a.m. the next day.

Randolph and Acevedo are both charged with murder of the first degree, murder of the second degree, robbery, kidnap to facilitate a felony, conspiracy to commit robbery, and conspiracy to kidnap to facilitate a felony. They are both being held in Dauphin County Prison without bail.

Acevedo’s next scheduled court appearance is plea court on June 8. Randolph is scheduled for trial starting Aug. 17.

The way the story came out about how Torin was murdered and where and when his body was found led to a perception about who he was as a person that was totally inaccurate, his mother says.

“The biggest struggle that I had as a mom was how people, how the community was perceiving Torin. Social media was awful. They were saying it was a drug deal gone bad and all kinds of crazy things, and that wasn’t the case at all. I couldn’t talk about it, because it was an active investigation.”

“He was a good kid,” she said. “He wasn’t a street kid. He was not a street kid. But he wasn’t perfect either. But he wasn’t a street kid.”

One of her hopes for the documentary is that it will show people who Torin really was, in place of the public image that emerged after he was killed.

Torin loved music, singing and performing. He had a flashy style of dress. Those close to him said he loved everyone and just wanted to be accepted.

He wasn’t, especially during his earlier years at Middletown Area High School where the bullying got so bad that Torin moved to Florida in his junior year to live with his paternal grandmother.

“It was breaking him down emotionally,” Bernola said of the bullying. “Friends that he had and really close friends he had growing up as a child, playing baseball together and doing things together, when all this started coming about some of these same kids were hateful to him and I think that it just emotionally was taking a toll on him.”

It broke her heart as a mother, but Bernola said that year away in Florida was what Torin needed. He was around a different group of people who were more supportive. He could be himself and he didn’t have to make any excuses.

He missed his family and wanted to come back for his senior year, and he came back with a new confidence and positivity, his mother said. He came back more creative as well, because he was free to be himself.

“He just seemed to have a whole different light about him when he came back,” Bernola said.

Greene said he hopes to donate some proceeds from sale of the documentary to one or more charities that promote awareness of bullying and are involved in anti-bullying work.