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Friday, February 11, 2000

02/11/00 Matthew Margolies: Mother Recounts Son's Life

By Peter Moore -- Greenwich Post

Since a site dedicated to Matthew Margolies went up on the Internet, the response has been a blessing for his mother Maryann. But by adding her own personal touch, she says she was able to let web surfers know that Matthew was something far more than a 13-year-old victim of a senseless crime. He was a person.

Maryann recently arranged for a story she wrote, "A Legacy of Love," accompanied by photographs of Matthew, to be posted at www.matthewmargolies.com. Five web pages long, the story tells of a life short in length, but full of spirit.

Maryann's story is one of the latest additions to a website created and maintained by Tom Alessi, a Stamford 911 facilities manager, who maintains two sites dedicated to unsolved murders that have taken place in Greenwich. Alessi's other site profiles the case of his childhood friend Martha Moxley, a Greenwich teen who was bludgeoned to death with a golf club in 1975.

"I asked Tom Alessi to post [the story] on the Internet because I wanted my son to have an identity," Maryann said Monday. "I think that except for the people who have known him, [Matthew] probably had been looked upon as a victim without an identity. And there's been such a response on the Internet that I wanted people to get a feeling of who he really was as a human being, as a person."

The person Maryann described lived from Jan. 24, 1971 until Aug. 31, 1984. And though Matthew's murder by an unknown assailant in the Pemberwick section of Greenwich has generated far more media attention than the happenings of his life, "A Legacy of Love," does not discuss the time surrounding his death at length.

Instead, Maryann Margolies talks of her son's love of nature and uses his example to touch the net surfer's heart and remind him or her of ways to achieve inner happiness.

"Given a choice, he would always prefer to be outdoors," she writes of Matthew. "The warmth of the sun, the wetness of the rain and the coldness of the snow would all nourish his spirit. He found joy in all of it. How long has it been since you last listened to the soft music made by fresh falling snow or perhaps the deeper sounds of rain?"

She describes Matthew as a decent student, specifically mentioning books he wrote at school with titles such as "Tombstone Ghost," "Fishing" and "Merry Christmas." These books still lie on the shelves of Maryann Margolies' house where she resides with her husband Jim.

At the time of his death, Matthew was due to begin eighth grade at Western Middle School. He disappeared on Aug. 31, 1984 and his body was found five days later in a wooded hilly area near Hawthorne and Greenway Street. He had been stabbed with a boning knife and asphyxiated and his body had been left in a shallow grave. There has never been an arrest in the killing.

"I've always had hope in that at some point, whoever was responsible for my son's death would be identified and that justice would be served," Maryann Margolies said Monday.

When Martha Moxley's neighbor Michael Skakel was arrested on Jan. 19 for Martha's murder, Maryann said the arrest did not influence her hope of an eventual arrest in her son's case. But she did say that the arrest proved that there is no way of time completely standing in the way of justice.

"I think that what has happened within Martha's case supports the fact that it's never too late," she says.

In her story, Maryann also writes of the joy Matthew received at the times of holidays, particularly Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and Halloween. A picture of Matthew in a Halloween costume accompanies the story.

She also mentions Matthew's fondness for hats on a page which includes a photo of Matthew atop a fire engine, wearing the traditional red firefighter's hat. Matthew's love of sports, especially fishing is also brought to light.

"He was quite the sportsman and many a man learned from him," she says.

She also mentions remembering Matthew with a positive outlook.

"Not a day passes, that I do not think of Matthew," she writes. "It seems clear that his life ended as it began, with a struggle. However, it is his life that I have had to focus upon. I can see his smile and hear his laughter. I know his love, warmth and caring ways. God has shown his love and bestowed his blessing in choosing me to be Matthew's mother."

Matthew's mother concludes "A Legacy of Love," by urging busy grownups to take time for their little ones. She explained the passage Monday.

"I think that it would be part of a living memorial to Matthew in order for people to take the time to tell their child that they love them," she said. "With both parents working and all the changes, people are always rushing around. It's important for parents to take the time, tell their children how they feel and above all, take the time to listen to them."

The story's final paragraph reads, in part: "If you have read this, please take the time to tell a child how much you love him/her. Chase rainbows, and if you can't find one, then make it! (Ingredients: a little sun, a garden hose and some running water) The reward: FUN, LAUGHTER AND LOADS OF LOVE IN BEING TOGETHER!"

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