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Yard signs like this are showing up all over the north country.  Photo: Julie Grant
Yard signs like this are showing up all over the north country. Photo: Julie Grant

Family waits, as investigation of Garrett Phillips' murder continues

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It's been nearly 10 months since the murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips at his home in Potsdam. Village and state police say the investigation is ongoing, but are giving no other information about the case. Waiting has been tough on the family. They've been distributing yard signs, and looking for other ways to keep Garrett's case in the public eye. Julie Grant recently spoke with Brian Phillips, Garrett's uncle, to talk about the case, and how the family is coping.

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Julie Grant
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There hasn’t been much information released to the public since last fall about the murder of Garrett Phillips. He was killed on Monday, October 24. Garrett had reportedly gone home after school to the apartment he shared with his mother on Market Street. At 5:10 p.m., a neighbor called Potsdam police, saying a loud noise had been heard from the apartment, followed by moaning.

Police found Garrett alone and unconscious. They officially declared his death a murder after receiving the initial autopsy results.

In recent months, signs have been popping up in yards all over the North Country, with his photo, alongside the words 'Justice for Garrett.' His uncle Brian Phillips says he thinks it’s making a difference.

“Since we’ve been doing the signs, I think, there’s been much more community support and it just brings it right back to everybody’s, you know, the front of their mind. Right now there’s been over 1,300 signs out there,” said Phillips. “It just shows there’s a lot of support for the one thing is justice for Garrett. It’s the only thing we really can hope for at this point: that whoever did it gets caught and does their time.”

Phillips says that it is frustrating that nothing has come of the efforts so far, but that the family is biding their time. He said, “It’s very frustrating that it’s been nearly 10 months and there’s still somebody who took Garrett’s life and is still out there free. But on the other hand, you want to make sure that the cops do the best that they can do to get an arrest and conviction out of this. So it’s frustrating, but if it takes a little more time and we get the result that we want in the end, I guess it’ll be all worth it then.”

According to Phillips, the family isn’t doing well. “Every day we wake up, and you know, our lives have changed forever. And the one who did this, it seems like their life hasn’t changed at this point. There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of anger. It’ll never be the same,” he said.

Phillips says that there has been a lot of community support for the family since October, but the signs have increased awareness of the family’s efforts and has kept the case in the front of everyone’s mind. He said that the signs sometimes can be difficult to see but that they’re worth it. He said, “It’s tough to see Garrett’s face on those signs, but on the other hand, when you see, when you know that that person’s supporting justice for Garrett.”

The signs have also kept the police thinking about the case, says Phillips. He added, “I personally believe that, by talking to them as much as I do, that they were still motivated, but on the other hand, when they drive by and they see these signs, I think it just – it might be that little more just to make them work on it that much harder.”

They have not heard anything about a time frame with regards to the investigation, but Phillips said, “I just know that both agencies are working on it daily and I believe there is progress being made. So I guess we can be patient as long as progress is being made and hopefully it’s sooner than later.”

“We’ll never have complete closure on this, just the way he was taken from us. But if there was somebody arrested and convicted, it would be a major part of somewhat trying to get back to our normal lives,” concluded Phillips.

Brian Phillips and others have set up a reward fund for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. They so far have collected $22,000. A motorcycle ride and benefit has been scheduled for Saturday, August 25, in Parishville.

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