Eight-year-old Jacob T. Noe had an abundance of love in his life and those closest to him – including his mother – always made sure he was safe.
But in the early-morning hours of Wednesday, Jessica L. Murphy allegedly took her son’s life in the North Buffalo apartment they shared with her mother and other relatives.
Murphy had been suffering from a bipolar disorder, according to a relative, and there had been discussions about Jacob moving in with family members in West Seneca, but it never happened.
Now the family is left to cope with this almost incomprehensible turn of events.
One day after the killing, paternal grandfather David C. Noe Sr. painted a portrait of a loving mother who suffered from serious mental problems over the last two years.
“She was a beautiful mother and everywhere that Jacob went, she made sure he was safe. She always took him to the pediatrician for his shots and physicals. She made sure his needs were met,” said Noe, taking a break late Thursday from finalizing funeral arrangements for his only grandson.
David C. Noe. Jr., Jacob’s father, was too grief-stricken and physically ill to take an active role in making the arrangements, the grandfather explained.
The wake is set for 7 to 9 p.m. tonight and 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the Reddington Funeral Home, 657 Abbott Road. The the doors will be open wide for those who wants to come and pay their respects.
“The more love, the more that can be brought out of how wonderful this boy was and that he was just caught in the middle of something ... it would be wonderful,” Noe said in issuing an invitation to the community.
While it would be easy to harbor anger against Murphy, Noe said he will not go there.
“You know what really meant a lot to me was when Jessica once told me that I was a great grandpa who was always there for Jacob.”
Murphy, 29, was charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing of her son. She claimed she was “saving him from going to hell,” according to a statement she made to police, who arrived at the second-floor apartment on Lovering Avenue at about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.
The grandfather says that Jacob should have been removed from the home when Murphy started experiencing mental illness, but that it is always easier to make judgments after the fact.
Authorities believe that mental illness may have figured in the slaying and added that there were no complaints of child abuse or neglect filed against Murphy with Erie County Child Protective Services.
At Tapestry Charter School in North Buffalo, where Jacob was a second-grader, counselors have been working the past two days providing assistance to children and staff.
“Children are so resilient,” said Joy Pepper, the school’s executive director, who recalled how well-liked Jacob was. “He’ll be remembered fondly by all his teachers and classmates.”
Classmates have been making sympathy cards for the grandfather, Pepper said, recalling how Noe had often come to the school at the end of the day to give Jacob a ride home.
Noe, who drove in from his home in West Seneca, says that rather than assign blame, he wants to remember the countless good times they had with Jacob, who was just shy of 4 feet tall and possessed a giant appetite for living.
“I remember when I would take Jacob to the Galleria mall when he was 2 years old and he would start mimicking grandpa as I danced to the music in mall,” Noe said. “He’d have a big smile on his face when he completed his maneuvers.”
Then there were the special trips to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where they watched planes coming in for landings.
“Jacob would say, ‘Plane, grandpa, plane!’ as they flew over our heads,” he recalled.
And there were the visits to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, where Jacob explored the retired Navy ships and would sit on the different monuments posing for photographs.
“He actually sat on a torpedo for one photo,” Noe said.
Many of their happy moments were also spent at Walden Heights playground, where Jacob’s grandmother, Elaine M. Noe, of Buffalo, pushed him on the swings and let him run free.
Jacob’s father also was part of those happy times.
“As Jacob grew older, my son would have football catches with him. Jacob also started riding around in a battery-powered toy car we got him,” the grandfather said.
Jacob also brought joy into his 90-year-old great-grandmother’s life. Rita Noe of Williamsville frequently accompanied her son, grandson and Jacob on the outings and sometimes pushed his stroller when he was a baby and toddler.
At the end of their trips, they always managed to wind up at McDonald’s, where Jacob dug into a Happy Meal.
His final birthday, on Jan. 14, included a prank played on him.
“The eight candles on his cake were trick candles that kept relighting every time he blew them out. He said, ‘Grandpa, the candles won’t go out.’ I told him, ‘Keep going, you’ll get them.’ He was tenacious and finally succeeded,” Noe said.
For his efforts, Jacob received a combination Christmas and birthday gift of an Xbox and 40-inch television along with a couple video games.
“He loved it so much it was an effort to get him out of his bedroom,” the grandfather said.
Jacob also loved his grandfather’s toys.
“When I went to Florida for a couple weeks this past winter, Jacob and my son stayed at my home and Jacob found a collector’s toy truck in my closet. It was still in the box. David called me and asked if Jacob could have it. I said no, but at Easter I gave it to him.
“He said, ‘And Grandpa, I’m not going to open it. I know it is a collector’s item and I know it is very expensive.’ But by the end of the evening, we let him open it and he was playing with it.”
That was the last time Noe saw his grandson alive.
“I kissed him and he kissed me and said, ‘Grandpa, I love you.’ ”
Tonight and Saturday, Noe says he will bid his grandson goodbye for the last time.
“I’m making this the most beautiful and memorable and loving celebration of his wonderful life that I possibly can and sharing it with all my family, friends and his classmates,” Noe said.
Following Saturday’s viewing, a prayer service will take place in the funeral home and mourners will be invited to share their memories of Jacob.
A brunch will follow at Flattery’s Irish Pub on Orchard Park Road in West Seneca.