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Former area resident continues effort to have son's memorial reinstated at Sackville school

Larry Mills is still fighting to have a memorial reinstalled at Marshview Middle School in honour of his son Larry Mills Jr., who was brutally murdered with his mother Mary Lou Barnes in their home in British Settlement in 1995.
Larry Mills is still fighting to have a memorial reinstalled at Marshview Middle School in honour of his son Larry Mills Jr., who was brutally murdered with his mother Mary Lou Barnes in their home in British Settlement in 1995. - Contributed

A father's fight

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

It’s been nearly two-and-a-half decades and the pain is still raw.

Larry Mills said his heart still aches every day for the son he lost, a 12-year-old boy who was brutally murdered along with his mother Mary Lou Barnes in their home in British Settlement.

“It’s been 24 years and it’s still tough,” said Mills, who now makes his home in Fredericton.

And what makes it even tougher for him is knowing the memorial playground that was named in Larry Mills Jr.’s honour several months after his death has been removed – and nothing has been done in the meantime to replace it.

This plaque was affixed to one of the pieces of playground equipment that was named in memory of Larry Mills Jr. It was removed when the playground equipment was taken down about 10 years ago.
This plaque was affixed to one of the pieces of playground equipment that was named in memory of Larry Mills Jr. It was removed when the playground equipment was taken down about 10 years ago.

“I won’t ever forget my son. And his friends and schoolmates won’t ever forget,” he said, his voice shaking with frustration. “But ... the school forgot and the school district forgot.”

Mills began his campaign back in February 2018 to have his son’s memorial put back on Marshview Middle School property. The school’s playground was dedicated in Larry Mills Jr.’s honour in a ceremony in June 1996, and a plaque was installed on a piece of playground equipment to officially commemorate the naming.

According to the school district, the plaque, however, was removed from the site about 10 years ago, when the playground equipment was taken down due to its deteriorating condition. The plaque was placed in a storage area at the school and, after several years of sitting idle, was eventually returned to the family.

Mills said when he brought up the idea last year to school officials to reestablish some type of memorial for his son, with a new plaque to replace the aging one, he felt his concerns had been heard. And that perhaps something would be done.

That has not been the case.

“There’s been absolutely nothing,” he said. “The school or the school board, they couldn’t care less.”

Mills said it was the Marshview students and staff who came up with the idea for a memorial in the weeks following Larry Mills Jr.’s death. A playground fund was set up and more than $15,000 was raised for new equipment.

Mills said he feels his son’s memorial playground has been completely abandoned – and he doesn’t plan to stop fighting until it is resolved.

“I’m going to keep shoving back,” said Mills, who said he has plans to see a lawyer about the issue this week. “I don’t care whose toes I have to step on.”

Larry Mills Jr. was 12 when he and his mom were brutally murdered in their British Settlement home.
Larry Mills Jr. was 12 when he and his mom were brutally murdered in their British Settlement home.

He said he will continue to keep the pressure on until the school and the school district take responsibility for reinstating the memorial.

Mills said he has heard recent suggestions that the natural playground recently installed at Lillas Fawcett Park be named in Larry Mills Jr.’s memory. And while he said it’s a nice offer, he insists the onus should not be on the town to fix this – it’s something the school needs to answer for.

And while there has also been talk about the possibility of Marshview’s closure and a new school eventually being built, he said that’s no excuse for not reinstalling a memorial.

“I want to see something erected now at the school. And if there’s a new school built, then it could be relocated there,” he said. “And come hell or high water, it will be.”

The Anglophone East School District was contacted for comment but had yet to respond by press time.

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