"That would be too much," he said. "I'm an emotional person."
A viewing will begin at 5 p.m. today, and Daniel Agosto, 6, and Jesstin Pagan, 5, will be buried tomorrow in Harleigh Cemetery in Camden. Anibal Cruz, 11, will be flown to Puerto Rico for burial.
In front of the house near where the boys died, in the 900 block of Bergen Avenue, a makeshift memorial of balloons, flowers, candles and mementos waved in the wind yesterday. An impromptu shrine against a fence at the nearby intersection of Bergen and River Avenues also continued to grow.
"It's overwhelming," said Dobbins, who has seen his neighborhood change over the years from German and Irish to predominantly Latino. "I wouldn't want to live any other place."
He started to sob as he talked: "To think that something like that could happen here. I don't know. I just wished someone had looked in the trunk sooner."
The bodies were found in a 1992 Toyota Camry behind the Cruz house two days after the boys were reported missing. Daniel's father, David Agosto, made the discovery when he opened the trunk to look for jumper cables.
A panel set up by the Camden County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing how and why police and neighborhood searchers overlooked the trunk, questions that have left residents and visitors wondering whether things might have turned out differently.
"Chances may have been good if they had looked," Dobbins said.
Concern about the overlooked trunk was shared by Ruth Behrens of Sewell, Gloucester County, and her friend Carol Giacobbe of Hammonton, Atlantic County. They drove to Camden yesterday to make a donation to the boys' families.
"It's just that I thought it was sad when I first heard about it - the children missing and no foul play," Behrens said. "The only thing I don't understand is why, if the cops weren't called until 8:30 p.m., why are they blaming the Camden cops? Why didn't somebody who was looking for them look in the car before that? Not the parents. They would have been too distraught. But if I were in the neighborhood helping, you'd think I'd look in the trunk."
But Alan Korn of the national Safe Kids organization has said trunks are a "hidden hazard," not an obvious place to look.
The children had been missing for more than three hours when the police were called - enough time, a forensic expert said, for them to become unconscious and run out of oxygen.
Yesterday, Dobbins read several of the cards left by people like Behrens and Giacobbe in front of the house.
There were poems and simple declarations.
"Juni, I will miss the times you used to come and buy icys," one note said, referring to Anibal.
But the words scrawled in felt pen on a Puerto Rican flag on the fence at Bergen and River seemed to sum it up best for the neighborhood: "We'll always remember," it said.
Contact staff writer Dwight Ott at 856-779-3844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.