Share this article

print logo


Ninety-two Buffalo people murdered in 1994.

That statistical spike on Buffalo's homicide charts has remained in the mind of a Buffalo free-lance journalist ever since.

For Peter William Warn, the victims of the city's most murderous year have become more than just numbers in a numerical anomaly. Though gone, they live in the pages of a book he wrote capturing vignettes of their lives, as recalled by those who knew them best -- friends and relatives.

There is the story of Sinclair W. "Bob" Armstrong, the assistant conductor for the "Tonight" show when Jack Paar was host. The 82-year-old man died from injuries he suffered in a beating while a patient in Veterans Hospital.

There is the story of Denise Joyce Broughton, who worked at the University at Buffalo recruiting minority students. The 30-year-old woman, who also served as a Sunday school teacher, would go to almost any length to give a person a fresh start in life by aiming them toward a college education. Miss Broughton was strangled in her Connelly Avenue apartment.

And there is 24-year-old Wendy Ann Kashuba, an English major at Buffalo State College, who dreamed of someday becoming Professor Kashuba, before she disappeared from the West Side. Her bludgeoned body was found weeks later in a makeshift grave beside Lake Erie in Irving.

These are just some of the snapshots of lives that will appear in the first of two volumes of "Fragments of Glass," scheduled to be published in November by Warn's company, T.L.W. News Services of Buffalo.

Warn says he wants to acquaint readers with those who have died, to help them realize violence is everyone's problem and that drug dealers aren't the only ones who have met death on Buffalo's streets.

"If people knew who was being killed, they might not feel so isolated from the bloodshed. By knowing these victims, you can't say it's someone else's problem. A lot were innocent victims," said Warn, who lives in Allentown.

Turf wars, fueled by the crack cocaine trade, were a big part of the city's bloodiest year, according to law enforcement officials, but the epidemic slowly died. Homicides declined in the following years, to 59 last year and 36 so far this year. "I think there's an impression that all of the people killed were drug dealers, and I think people will be surprised to find out how much the people killed were like all of the rest of us," Warn said.

There is the story of William M. Duffy Sr., a World War II veteran who had suffered a nervous breakdown from the horrors of combat. In his later years, he went walking every day, visiting his sisters' homes throughout South Buffalo.

Duffy, 69, was stabbed and beaten to death in a Marilla Street home. Richard T. Jordan Jr., 59, and Earle P. Sedore, 71, who shared the house with Duffy, also were killed.

There is the story of Alvin Cosby, an admired teacher. He was known to tell his students, "You're more than you think you are. I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, instead of through the eyes of everyone pushing you down."

The 35-year-old man was fatally shot in his Strauss Street home.

And there is the story of Robert Manning Starks III, who, according to his family, became addicted to crack cocaine. If he hadn't fallen into the clutches of drugs, his relatives are certain he would have become a millionaire, because he had a fierce, go-getter spirit. The 32-year-old man's life was cut short when he was shot outside the home of his estranged wife on East Utica Street.

Warn, a 34-year-old former reporter for a Connecticut newspaper who holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, said he was amazed at how gracious the relatives and friends of the dead were to him.

"I keep trying to think how I would feel if someone in my family had been murdered. I'd be angry. Yet these people invited me into their homes," said Warn.

He said his intention to donate all of the book sale proceeds to charity helped win him that access. He plans to print 10,000 books and give 5,000 away to families of the deceased, schools, libraries and churches. The balance will be sold at area bookstores and community centers at $8 apiece.

"The money will go to community organizations working against violence," the author said, noting his interest to write the book was stirred by a December 1994 memorial service for the slain.

"I went to Calvary Baptist Church on Genesee Street and was disturbed by how few people attended, and I thought that this project might help break down some of the helplessness that probably kept people away," Warn said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment