The Poudre River runs through the town of Windsor, the Poudre Trail bicycle and pedestrian path travelling along the north bank of the river. The residents of Windsor share a small town atmosphere. People are generous and welcoming, they smile and wave when they recognize a friend on the street. Our Mayor John Vazquez compared it to “Mayberry.” Close neighbors and friends support each other and welcome newcomers and strangers into their oasis of serenity and safety. Those who live here call it home and are proud to do so.
At 10 am on May 18th, an ordinary day in Windsor would change into a day of disbelief and shock, as the news broadcast that an unknown killer had taken the life of a beloved Windsor citizen, John Jacoby.
A murder? Not in our town! The last one happened eight years ago. A homicide effects everyone that it touches. Lives are changed forever. The countless people who loved and were involved in John Jacoby’s life — families, friends, acquaintances, employees, search and rescue, physicians and EMTs — feel the pain that resonates. David Jacoby, John’s brother, was a first responder at the scene. His burden is unimaginable.
John Jacoby was a Windsorite. A simple man with a heart of gold who gave back to his city. He defined who he was by his continued involvement. This included his involvement with K99’s 28 Hours of Hope to help fight the battle of child abuse in Northern Colorado. His brother David shared a memory of John, who liked to be called “Johnny,” writing a letter to Paula Woodward, anchor of Channel 9 news when he was in the 6th or 7th grade, telling her he loved his life, his family and Windsor. A friend, Shelly Jamison, who went to high school with Johnny, smiled as she shared memories of her friend, who lettered for four years as a water boy and never missed a day of school. Over the years, the Windsor Fire Department made him an honorary firefighter, because he would often beat the fire department on his bike, to a call in progress.
Those who were not acquainted with John — “Johnny” to his family and friends — were introduced to him in the cruelest of ways and were impacted by this senseless tragedy . It made an impression on our thoughts and our minds. People who live in Windsor are speaking of it at the grocery stores, the cleaners, during book clubs, and at Starbucks. His community did not let him down. They stood tall and proud as they planned his funeral and gave from their hearts and pocket books to honor this wonderful man. What a celebration of life as hundreds of our community filled Faith United Church and spilled over to the high school. The killer took away his life, but Windsor gave it back in memory and celebration. John was hearing impaired and faced many adversities and overcame them. He was honored by the Mayor of Windsor as an “icon.” What an achievement. Windsor is part of this story.
What can we do as a community? This community is still frightened by this uninvited intrusion. We are still angry. Our lives have been altered. We are more cautious. One person told me that she is afraid to walk in her neighborhood alone. One mother is asking her children not to ride their bikes for a while. It will be some time before this tragedy and the emotions surrounding it are relegated to the past. The police, FBI, family, friends and the rest of us are waiting for justice, and for healing. As a community we will lean on and help each other through this time of grief, mourning, and loss. We persevered through the tornado of 2008. We rebuilt. This time we are rebuilding our hearts and that is a long and difficult process.