Mamaroneck Man Murdered
Stephen J. Spina Mourned at Candlelight Vigil
by Judy Silberstein
(September 20, 2007) A candlelight vigil in Mamaroneck Village on Tuesday, September 18, drew scores of friends and family members still in shock at the death of Stephen J. Spina, 36, found stabbed and lifeless in his Mamaroneck Gardens apartment around 12:30 on Monday afternoon. A Mamaroneck native, Mr. Spina was a letter carrier with the Larchmont Post Office for 12 years and an umpire with the Larchmont Little League for a decade. According to friends, he arranged his weekend around the schedule of his daughter, Skyler, 12, who lives with her mother elsewhere in Mamaroneck.
Mr. Spina was taking his day off on Monday. Neighbors speculated he may have known his assailant because there were no signs of forced entry into his apartment at 300 Richbell Road, a block from Mamaroneck High School.
Police are releasing few details as they continue investigating the murder, but neighbors and co-workers reported that last month Mr. Spina had his car tires slashed and his girlfriend, Tamara Acevedo, had her car window smashed. There had been some media speculation about the possible involvement of Ms. Acevedo’s previous boyfriend. Police dismissed those theories.
“We were aware of the relationship,” said Mamaroneck Police spokesperson Lt. James Gaffney on Thursday afternoon. “The individual was contacted and he is not a suspect.”
“We have our own case developing,” said Lt. Gaffney, who declined to comment further. Anyone with information is asked to call the Village of Mamaroneck Detective Bureau at (914) 777-7741 or 777-7743.
Killings Rare in Mamaroneck and Larchmont
The lieutenant did indicate that murder is a rare occurrence in Mamaroneck. The torso of a slain woman washed up at Harbor Island last year, but that death may have occurred elsewhere. (See: Torso Washes Up on Mamk Beach: Police Seek Help on ID.) Before that, the last killing in Mamaroneck occurred in 2004, when a man shot his wife, abducted his children and later committed suicide. (See: Mamaroneck Village Slay Suspect Apparent Suicide.) The last recorded murders in Larchmont Village were in 1992, when in unrelated incidents a teenaged worker at the Larchmont Playhouse killed the manager and a Palmer Avenue man killed his wife.
"Spoon" Spina Popular on Ball Field, At Work
Mr. Spina, nicknamed Spoon, was popular at work, on the ball fields and in the community. Those attending the vigil ranged from children to senior citizens. Leading the gathering in prayer was Reverend James Healey from St. Vito’s church in Mamaroneck, where the Spina family has worshipped for years.
At the Larchmont Post Office where Mr. Spina had worked as a letter carrier for the past twelve years, his colleagues wore purple ribbons in his honor. “He was an excellent worker and his customers loved him,” said Dorothy Abel, the post mistress.
His customers were among those mourning his death and contacting the Gazette to be sure any article described Mr. Spina as more than a "murderd postal worker."
“Just so you know how well-liked Steve was, one of my former neighbors with whom I haven't talked for months called me out of the blue to see if I heard the news,” emailed Kenneth Suh, who no longer lives on Mr. Spina’s route.
“He was a warm, funny guy who loved kids and loved baseball,” wrote John Risner, who headed up the Little League Blue and Green division umpires for four years. Mr. Spina would umpire Sunday games to leave Saturdays free for his daughter. “I saw him ump many times, and he was so good with the kids,” commented Mr. Risner. “He had the perfect judgment and temperament to not only umpire effectively, but to teach the kids how the game should be played.”
“He loved umping,” said Andrew Spina on Thursday as he sat outside his brother's apartment surrounded by candles that Stephen's friends continue to light in his memory. “We would be at the supermarket and kids would run up to him.”
“He was a beloved and prolific umpire for the LMLL,” concurred David Fishman, president of the Larchmont Mamaroneck Little League. “He was incredibly level-headed and fair in the midst of often chaotic parents and coaches on the field. He will be sorely missed.“
Mr. Spina was also a “passionate” ball player. “He played on many adult softball leagues, where he was something of a ringer,” added Mr. Fishman. “When we needed a hand, he would fill in – he was a great asset. “
By late in the week, family and friends were gathering in Mamaroneck in preparation for a wake and funeral. (See Obituary.) A trust fund was being established for Skyler Spina. (Details are available from Coxe & Graziano Funeral Home.)
The family’s feelings were summarized in a letter attached to the front door to Stephen's apartment and signed by Mr. Spina’s parents and siblings: “To our beloved son whom the world will miss. We will always love him, and our lives will never be the same without Stephen.”