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Mount Airy man who died after Frederick fair assault remembered at vigil as ‘a good man’

John “Jay” Weed refurbished antique furniture, kept popsicles on hand for the kids in his family, cleaned the house for his sister, built a fire pit for roasting marshmallows — even though he hated them — watched “Jeopardy!” with his mom and enjoyed reading fantasy Victorian novels.

Weed’s friend, Gary Lengerhuis, read these descriptions and more on behalf of Weed’s mother at a vigil for her son at Mount Airy’s Watkins Park on Friday night.

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Family, friends and even people who did not know the deceased gathered to remember the life of Mount Airy resident John Marvin Weed, who died after an assault at The Great Frederick Fair on Sept. 20.

Weed, 59, was found lying unconscious on the ground near the midway area of the fairgrounds just after 5:36 p.m. that day, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. He was flown to the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and died at about 4 p.m. Sept. 21.

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Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said during a news conference Monday that two teens who face charges in connection with the assault of Weed, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, will be held in detention in Montgomery County until their next court date on Oct. 22. The younger teen faces charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment, and the older teen faces one charge of second-degree assault.

“How does a mother say goodbye to her first born? How will we ever get along without him?” Lengerhuis read at the vigil.

Lengerhuis met Weed about 35 years ago. Weed was his butcher, his “dear deer butcher" for more than a decade. The two didn’t see each other for years after Lengerhuis moved and found another butcher nearer to him — until Weed walked into Ace Hardware, where Lengerhuis works, and brought him a weed wacker in need of repairs Sept. 10.

Lengerhuis and a friend made plans to meet Weed at his house Saturday, Sept. 21, but he never answered his phone.

“This was not like John,” Lengerhuis said. “It was Monday morning when I found out why he didn’t call. I was deeply saddened to hear this news.”

His voice breaking, Lengerhuis reminded the approximately 50 people gathered at the park to stay close their loved ones, because “one day it will be your last goodbye.”

Five more people stepped forward to share memories of Weed, two of them former classmates. Weed graduated from Einstein High School in Kensington, Class of 1977, classmate Tina Neuenschwander said.

“I’m sorry I never got to see him after school. We all go our different ways, but Jay Weed will always be Jay Weed to me,” classmate Willie Toledo said. “He was good. It was nice to talk to him and I can still see his blonde hair, smiling ... ."

Neuenschwander said former classmates across the country who couldn’t be at the vigil were lighting candles that evening.

“I just wanted to let the family know that there are a lot of people that have your support around the country,” she said.

Stephen Edgar met Weed when he interrupted his conversation with a customer at Ace Hardware. They were discussing the merits of building a butcher block or buying an old one when Weed cut in and offered him one for cheap, according to Edgar.

“I’m just going to miss him a lot. He was a good man and he treated me right,” Edgar said.

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The way his family and friends tell it, Weed was always ready to lend a helping hand. He cared for the lawn at home, managed his father’s doctor’s appointments and let Lengerhuis pay him for butchering when he had the money.

“It’s just so sad to see a good man like that taken out so early,” Lengerhuis said.

Gospel singer Douglas Phebus of Sykesville started the vigil with “Amazing Grace” and ended the evening with “I Can Only Imagine,” which the crowd joined in singing.

At the close, Lengerhuis looked up to the stars and said, “John, thank you for your friendship. It was an honor to know you.”

A fundraiser for the Weed family is planned for Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. at Jimmie Cone in Mount Airy. Ten percent of Jimmie Cone sales that evening will be donated to the Weed family through the Mount Airy Disaster Relief Fund. There will be a car show and music, Lengerhuis said.

Details of the assault

The incident at the Frederick fair started when a group of young men, including the two defendants, who are brothers, asked Weed for a dollar at the fair and he refused, according to Smith, the state’s attorney. Some sort of “negative” dialogue occurred, the 16-year-old punched Weed in the back of the head, and then after a brief time the 15-year-old landed a “deadly blow,” according to Smith.

When asked about the exchange Wednesday, Smith declined to say more about the words that were said, as they were not part of the public record, he said.

Weed’s sister, Lori Hawkins, wrote in a statement Tuesday that John, or “Uncle Jay,” as he was known to her children, was her “rock."

“We just wanted to spend time together as a family at the fair, but due to this horrible act of unprovoked violence my brother is now dead,” Hawkins wrote. “There is no excuse for what these individuals have done.”

They moved to Frederick one year ago to care for their aging parents, according to Hawkins.

The teens have been charged to the fullest extent of the law at this time, according to Smith, though an investigation is still ongoing.

Anyone with information related to this assault can contact Det. Jen Skelley at 301-600-1046, or through the tip line at 301-600-4131. Tips may also be sent to FCSOtips@frederickcountyMD.gov.

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