Thursday, August 11, 2011

After Three Months of Planning, Hispanic Teen Eduardo Marmolejo Guts Beloved White, Memphis School Teacher-Principal Suzette York in Classroom


Murder victim Suzette York, 41.

“Some believe it was evil that struck Memphis Junior Academy.” And so, it was.

Diversity is not an accident; diversity doesn’t just “happen”; diversity is death.


Principal killed at East Memphis private school; student suspect charged with 1st-degree murder
Accused teen tells police he plotted for months
By Clay Bailey, Jody Callahan, Kristina Goetz
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Posted August 10, 2011 at 12:37 p.m., updated August 10, 2011 at 11:42 p.m.

Saying he didn’t like Suzette York and she made him angry, Eduardo Marmolejo told police Wednesday that he had planned to kill his principal since May.

The 17-year-old student at Memphis Junior Academy chose Wednesday because he knew he’d be alone in a classroom with York, 49, according to a police affidavit. So, at about 11 a.m., Marmolejo stabbed her multiple times, leaving her in a pool of blood at the East Memphis private school at 50 N. Mendenhall, police said.

Those chilling details were included in the affidavit obtained late Wednesday by The Commercial Appeal. Marmolejo, incarcerated at Juvenile Detention Center, is being charged with first-degree murder.

“Eduardo Marmolejo admitted that he had stabbed his teacher Suzette York multiple times because he did not like her and she made him angry,” the affidavit read. “(He) said that he had been planning to kill Mrs. York since May 2011 when he learned he would be returning to the Memphis Junior Academy. (He) said that he planned to kill Mrs. York (Wednesday) because he knew she would be alone in the classroom with him.”

The brutal killing left those affiliated with the school grasping for answers Wednesday while trying to deal with their grief.

Friends praised York both for her abilities in the classroom and as a principal at the school, which is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist church.

“She was really a wonderful person. We’re devastated over this situation,” said her pastor, Don Rittershamp. “She was as dedicated to doing her job as anybody I’ve ever met. She worked so hard in her profession and as an administrator.”

York, a native of Canada, began her teaching career after graduating in 1983 from Pacific Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist liberal arts college in California’s Napa Valley.

Although she initially taught at Memphis Junior Academy, impressing school officials with her dedication and teaching style, she later returned to teach in Canada.

When the principal’s position opened up at the Memphis school about four years ago, officials with the Seventh-day Adventist Conference recruited her for the job, said Marvin Lowman, spokesman for the Seventh-day Adventist Conference in Goodlettsville, Tenn.

“She was an excellent teacher, very organized and just had a passion for educating kids,” Lowman said.

One of York’s passions was expanding the school through the 12th grade. The school’s board voted last spring to begin that process by including an 11th grade.

Marmolejo was the first and only 11th-grader at the school, Lowman said, adding that he didn’t know the teenager and couldn’t discuss his school history.

Brittany Bridges, 21, attended the school and had York as a teacher for science and math. She praised York as “a great teacher, probably the best teacher you could have.”

“She cared. She took the time if you didn’t understand it,” Bridges said. “She was the one who would sit down after school and take care of you. She was like that all the time. To everyone. There was never a soul she wouldn’t help.”

Kristen Bridges, Brittany’s 26-year-old sister, added that York “was harder, but she pushed you to learn. I tell you, I learned my math from her.”

When word first spread about the brutal attack, parents rushed to the one-story building near the northeast corner of Walnut Grove and Mendenhall.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton also showed up shortly after police answered the call
“The key thing at this time is to assure parents of children who are in school in general that this is a situation that is contained at this one location, and that it is not an active situation,” Wharton said as he stood in the school’s driveway.

Despite the violence, Dalphina Murray said she doesn’t intend to take her 14-year-old son out of the school.

“Things happen. I understand that,” Murray said. “I’m going to stay very much on top of this story because I want my son to be safe.”

Mullins United Methodist Church hosted a 40-minute impromptu prayer service Wednesday afternoon. About 30 people attended, some of them sobbing from the pews, others sitting with their arms around each other as the church’s Rev. Scottie Brafford prayed for York, her family and the family of the suspect, along with the victim’s friends and co-workers.

“With questions that have no words and with grief that is unbounded. We began our day believing there was an orderliness, and it feels at this moment as if grief has exploded within us,” Brafford said. “The sense of orderliness and peace has been broken and shattered.”

Staff reporters Chris Conley and Beth Warren contributed to this article.

[Thanks to reader-researcher RC for this story.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We need to love one another. Peace