YARBROUGH: MEMORIES, QUESTIONS LINGER

l-yarbrough-srLarry Yarbrough Sr., with a picture of his son, also shown below, who was stabbed to death in Red Bank early Sunday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

larry-yarbroughAs investigators continue to look into the stabbing death of a Red Bank man and the critical wounding of another early Sunday, little information remains available about the incident, and the victim’s father says he’s as in the dark about it as everybody else.

Friends and other family, too, are looking for answers in the death of one of Red Bank’s own, a fun-loving man who, despite a checkered past, was on the up and up and proud of his progress as a worker and father to a young daughter, they say.

Now is not the time to get caught in the negativity or the tension surrounding the death of Larry Yarbrough Jr., they said Wednesday night at the bimonthly meeting of the borough council. It’s the time to come together as a community.

yarbrough-familyFriends and family of Yarbrough Jr. made an appearance at the borough council meeting Wednesday to spread the word on a ceremony and vigil for the man who was slain early Sunday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

“We just want to have time for healing,” said Linda Clark, a friend of Yarbrough who’s helping to organize a ceremony and vigil at Pilgrim Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Avenue Saturday. She wore a white t-shirt with a silk-screened picture of Yarbrough that read, “The Teacher” and “R.I.P. Froggy, A.K.A. Be Allah,” his nicknames.

According to Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw, Yarbrough was stabbed in “a fairly significant altercation that involved a number of people on each side.” The second victim, Manuel Rosas-Oceloti, 18, of 46 Bank, was hospitalized in critical condition.

Two borough men — Jose Francisco Oliveres-Palma, 25, of River Street and Genarro Guerrero-Montes, 19, of 9 Bank Street — were arrested in Lakewood and charged with murder Monday.

Officials haven’t offered any more clues about what led to the melee.

In the days since, rumors have swirled and questions have hung over grief-ridden family members and friends who knew Yarbrough as a strong-willed leader and proud father.

At the council meeting, a friend and two of Yarbrough’s step-sisters speculated that Yarbrough say was trying to defend Rosas-Oceloti when he was stabbed to death.

“I could really picture that,” said Clark.

Yarbrough was friends with many of the Latinos on the West Side of Red Bank, Clark said. She also said it wasn’t uncommon for him and others to just “hang out” late at night into the early morning.

José Ramos, a West Sider for 60 years, said he “cried like a baby” when he heard about Yarbrough’s death. Seated in a wheelchair at the scene of the killing, where a makeshift memorial has been created on a curbside tree, Ramos said Yarbrough came from “a good family,” had played with his own children growing up, and was a goodhearted, giving adult, always looking after younger people.

“I don’t know why they had to do this,” he said of the assailants.

A former employee of a window company in Asbury Park, Yarbrough was not working at the time of his death, his step-sister, Carla Gary, said. In recent years, he had put old troubles behind him and was focussed on being a father to his four-year-old daughter, Ezuri Medina, she said.

According to the state Department of Corrections website, Yarbrough spent 11 years in prison for attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession with intent to sell drugs on school property. Particulars of the case weren’t available.

Seven weeks after his June, 2002, release, he was back behind bars for a parole violation. He was released from East Jersey State Prison in Rahway in August, 2004, the DOC website indicates.

Late Wednesday morning, shortly after spending time at Yarbrough’s father’s home on West Sunset, investigators were seen knocking on a door at 46 Bank Street, the reported home of the second stabbing victim, Rosas-Oceloti.

After two investigators left his rented white and green two-story on West Sunset Avenue, Yarbrough’s father, Larry Yarbrough Sr., briefly talked to redbankgreen about his family and the incident Sunday morning.

Yarbrough Sr., a native of Georgia, moved to Red Bank in 1959. Yarbrough Jr., who has a sister living in Texas, lived his whole life in town and knew many people, his father said.

When asked about his time served in prison, his father grew frustrated. Friends said he focused his attention on guiding local youth to not go down the same path.

“That’s whatever he did in the past,” Yarbrough Sr., who lives with his wife and Yarbrough Jr.’s stepmother, Martha, said. “It should have nothing to do with it.”

His son was a nice person, and “that was it,” he said. He doesn’t know the alleged killers or have any idea who they are, he said.

“Because of his past, he didn’t want to see other people make the same mistakes,” Clark said.

As far as the murder goes, he offered no insight as to what might have happened.

“I was home in bed. I still don’t know nothing. Nobody tell you nothing,” the 65-year-old retired union laborer said. “I have no good feeling about it, but what can you say?”

A Facebook tribute page created by Yarbrough Jr.’s sister was posted earlier this week. On it, she says he was the smartest and wisest man she knew to walk the Earth.

On his own Facebook page, Yarbrough subscribed to a daily astrology feed and posted random thoughts that seemed to focus on positivity and gaining knowledge in a troubled world.

Five days before his death, he posted:

Ima bout to make a new page.majority of those on my friendslist.be talkin&postin some bs.when i wake up to my(my)page i want positive thoughts.not mental bar&club beef.a new day is a briter idea.so by with the same and peace with the new.peace~

Yarbrough Jr. would’ve been 40 in September, a landmark he looked forward to, Clark said.

“He wanted a 40th birthday party,” she said. “He was looking forward to things. It wasn’t like he ever had the mindset of giving up.”

Instead, friends, family, borough leaders and others in the community will remember his life at a ceremony and vigil outside Pilgrim Baptist Church on Saturday. The service is slated for 4:30 p.m., and the borough council said the public is invited.

Recognizing the tragedy at its council meeting Wednesday, members — many of whom knew or went to the same school as Yarbrough Jr.’s family — said Red Bank leaders will be vigilant in rooting out whomever was responsible and making them pay.

“It is a loss in all of our lives,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna, who went to school with Yarbrough Jr.’s cousin. “But we will be strong and continue to see that justice is done.”

Gary, surrounded by two other sisters, Sylvia and Yvette, as well as a brother-in-law, Nigel Mitchell, said Yarbrough Jr.’s death has instantly thrown the family into turmoil. Her brother was a loving person, silly, always fun and had the ability to fill a room with laughter, she said.

“The most heart-breaking thing,” she said, “was my niece asking my father, where was her daddy?”