Family of slain special-needs man struggles with funeral cost

Massey
Massey
Posted: December 05, 2013

THE EMPTINESS that's consumed the Marple Newtown High School community in the wake of Christian Massey's slaying over a $300 pair of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones in Overbrook on Saturday reached new depths yesterday.

Massey's family confirmed that the body of the 21-year-old, who was shot in the chest five times in a driveway on Lebanon Avenue near 58th Street, is still at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was pronounced dead Saturday evening.

The family held a vigil in Massey's honor Monday night, but it will cost more than they can afford to give Massey a proper burial, according to the family.

"We can't get [Christian] out of the morgue right now," Thelma Hodge, Massey's aunt, said yesterday. "We were told it would cost between $2,200 and $2,700, according to one funeral home. It's really been a mess. Everyone is trying to deal with this and it's killing us all. Neighbors won't cooperate [with police]. And now this. Christian was a good kid, a great kid, who wouldn't harm anyone. He's the kind of kid who would do anything for you."

Massey went from the now-defunct Don Guanella School, an Archdiocese of Philadelphia facility for special-needs boys in Springfield, Delaware County, to being mainstreamed into the Marple Newtown School District. As part of a partnership with Don Guanella, Massey was able to play two years of varsity football and one year of varsity basketball for the Tigers.

Dennis Reardon, assistant principal and athletic director at Marple Newtown High, where Massey graduated in June, is working through the Marple Newtown Home and School Association to raise the funds.

Reardon, who coached Massey in eighth grade and served as a mentor to him through his years at Marple Newtown, was on the phone all day yesterday trying to drum up financial support for Massey's family.

"We're trying to raise money through our football and basketball boosters, and we're trying to see what we can do to dig some money up in other areas," Reardon said. "Our Home and School Association is trying to do what they can do. It's still been very tough around here. Everyone still has a very hollow feeling at the school. People are having a hard time trying to understand why something like this happened."

Massey's cousin, Pebble Hill, echoed her aunt's sentiment that residents of the neighborhood where the young man was slain have been uncooperative in helping to track down his killer.

"My cousin was a beautiful person. He was like a brother to me, and right now, my family can use all the support they can get," she said. "This has been a great strain on our family emotionally, financially. We love all the outpouring that my family's received."

Massey never had a criminal past, although he has been confused with a Christian Nebbia Massey, who was arrested in April 2012 on drug-possession charges. Christian Nebbia Massey was born Jan. 9, 1993, while Christian Lamar Massey, the young man slain over the weekend, was born June 14, 1992, Reardon confirmed.

"He was a good kid who deserves to be remembered properly," Hill said. "And that's what we plan on doing."

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