WILKES-BARRE — On his feet all day delivering the mail Bobby Conklin put in a few more miles for a friend.
He joined approximately 100 family, neighbors and co-workers of Laurie Merritt to remember her Friday night on the second anniversary of her death, covering her postal route in the city’s North End.
“I did a big route today and my legs are killing me,” Conklin said. “I’m 67 and I don’t care how much we walk. I’d walk for her any day.”
They started and ended at her home on Wyoming Street where her body was found in the attic crawl space the night of April 14, 2014, during a smokey fire that was intentionally set. Still to be determined is how it started and whether someone killed the popular mail carrier. Her iPhone was found next to her and investigators have asked Apple to unlock it to determine if it contains any clues to solve the case.
“You had to get along with her,” Conklin said, recalling Merritt’s likeable personality and willingness to help.
Like others in attendance and along the route, Conklin said he couldn’t believe it when he found out she was dead. “You wonder why God does things. Maybe he wants her up there with him,” Conklin said.
A purple balloon hung from a post on Joe Roback’s porch as he watched the group pass by on the sidewalk in front of his house on Wyoming Street. Merritt delivered his mail.
“She stopped to talk to everybody on her route,” he said.
More houses displayed the purple balloons and someone at a house on North Pennsylvania Avenue wrote on one in black marker “R.I.P. Laurie Merritt” and drew two hearts underneath the message.
Across the street Barbara Vega made sure a balloon was stuck to her mailbox.
“She was very well liked, an excellent mail lady, an excellent person,” Vega said.
Purple was Merritt’s favorite color and it signifies domestic violence, said her daughter Kristin Merritt. She suspected foul play in the death, saying “my mother’s killer’s still on the street somewhere.”
She asked that people dwell on the positive and remember her mom’s happy spirit.
Neighbors David and Roxann Durham said they were also friends of Merritt who delivered their mail.
“She was a really kind-hearted person,” David Durham said.
Co-worker Kelly Cox offered a short prayer at the end of the walk.
“We can’t believe it’s been two years and we just trust you have a plan Lord. We trust that Laurie’s in your arms right now, Lord, looking over us and we pray that you will just bless this family, give them the peace and comfort that they need,” Cox said.
“Thank you for the beautiful sunshine and the weather and just the life and spirit that Laurie brought to this neighborhood and this family,” she said.
Joe Walkowiak appreciated the turnout said he wanted to hold an annual event for his younger sister.
“We’re going to try to keep it going every year and we’re going to try get a scholarship going and give it in Laurie’s name to somebody that’s in need. Because that’s what she would have wanted,” Walkowiak said.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott