All throughout a candlelight vigil on Wednesday for slain Arizona State University honors student Zachary Marco, his friends and family members spoke about the things he had said and done and what they’ll always remember him for: helping them to become better people themselves.
Dr. Jayne Reinhard, Marco’s history instructor at ASU, remembered him for liking vanilla ice cream, red peanut M&Ms and listening to Rush Limbaugh. She said Marco would have been the best public servant the world has ever seen.
Sam Becker, one of the slain student’s best friends, said Marco kept a picture of boxer Arturo Gatti and planned to put it on his desk when he became an attorney, “He wasn’t the strongest or the fastest, but Gatti never gave up,” Becker said. “Zach was the same way. Like Gatti, no matter what stood in front of him, he never gave up.”
Marco’s younger sister, Michelle Marco, 15, who once was given a guitar by “Zach” when she was younger, composed a song with her best friend Khali Titsh and performed it at the vigil. The song doesn’t have a title yet, but Michelle and Kahli agreed that the opening line was most important to them: “I still wait for you to come through the door.”
Slightly more than 200 people turned out for the vigil in the courtyard of ASU’s Barrett Honors College featuring a slideshow to memorialize Marco, 21, an avid Cleveland Browns fan who had planned to enter his family’s profession of practicing law or possibly politics.
Marco died after he was shot during a robbery for his cell phone and an old laptop computer about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 in the 1100 block of East University Drive while he was walking home from the school library. On Tuesday, Tempe police announced the arrest of the two men they say are responsible for his death — Louis Eugene Harper, 20, who police say pulled the trigger and his nephew, Marion Anthony Patterson III, 17.
Both Harper and Patterson were charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and armed robbery and each is being held on $1 million bond. A third person was arrested in connection with Marco’s death, but police did not release a name.
“My son died for nothing,” Marco’s father, Daniel Marco said during the vigil. “Nothing. I was proud of him and I loved him. I always assumed he knew that, but rarely, if ever, did I ever say those words.”
Daniel Marco urged others to more resemble his son and not his killers and not to take shortcuts in life like they did.
Marco’s grandparents, Richard and Shirley Marco, who were in the crowd holding candles, were not among the ones to speak from the podium during the vigil, but shared words of their grandson afterward.
“Everyone is talking about Zach as if he were a giant,” Richard Marco said. “He’ll always be a kid to me. He was just a great kid. I remember him stripping wallpaper off our wall when he was little, bouncing in a swing. He studied hard and worked hard, but he knew how to have fun.”
Shirley Marco said Zach loved cookies and would always walk in the door and say, ‘Hey grannie, you got any oatmeal and raisin cookies?’
“I loved his giggle,” she said. “He kept all the cards I sent him.”
Marco’s other younger sister, Katie Marco, who also is a student at ASU, was among the last to speak at the vigil.
She talked about her brother pushing her in school, how she always paid for him at Starbucks because he never had any money and how she was proud to be his sister.
“He should be here,” Katie Marco said as she looked around the courtyard. “This is everything he worked for every day.”
The Marco family also announced during the vigil that they are launching the Zachary Marco Foundation and are accepting contributions in Zach's memory. The foundation will help to provide college scholarships to students entering the law profession or political science. It also will benefit families of murder victims who need financial assistance to pay for funeral costs.
Anyone interested in contributing to the foundation can mail donations to: The Zachary Marco Foundation, 7756 E. Sugar Loaf Circle, Mesa, AZ, 85207.