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‘Still Running’

Sister Seeks Answers In Forgotten Homicide

Pictured is a portion of a Facebook post by Kimberly Hall Curtis, sister of Billy Hall Jr. who died after a brutal beating in 2018. Submitted photo

Trouble always seemed to find Billy Hall Jr. Even during the precious final days and hours of his life, Hall seemed to be a magnet for run-ins with the law or minor disagreements with friends or family members, according to Kimberly Hall Curtis, his sister.

But what happened in the early morning hours of July 21, 2018, continues to haunt those who love and miss him. “There’s not one day I don’t think about it,” his sister said in an interview this week.

Hall died after a brutal beating that occurred early that summer Saturday morning sometime after 2 a.m. in the alley next to 35 Water St. Family members believe he was dragged across the street where his bloodied body was found on a porch at 36 Water St. in Fredonia.

Once found, he was quickly flown to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa. A little more than two weeks later, he succumbed to the injuries on Aug. 5. “He died like an animal,” his sister said with anger.

Watching her brother whittle away to nothing in his hospital bed was pure torture for her and all the family members. “I held his hand with my mom while he gasped for his last breath,” she recalled tearfully. “I knew he was leaving us. … I watched him lose 40 pounds in his last week.”

Memories of Hall were overflowing during last weekend. On Saturday, his beloved Buffalo Bills were playing in their second playoff game in 20 years. Curtis said he would have been cheering the loudest if he had been there.

Jan. 5, however, was a much sadder occasion. It marked another unfortunate milestone in the anniversary of his death. The pain of him being gone — with no answers — seems as though it will never go away.

“(Seventeen) months ago today some murderers decided to be God and take you from us,” the Facebook post by Curtis read. “These murderers are so big and bad they’re still running and hiding.”

His sister’s mission, since the day Hall died, is for justice. “I’m doing what I have to do,” she said.

Some of what she is doing has been quite visible throughout both Dunkirk and Fredonia. It’s Curtis who has made the 8- by 11-inch posters that can be found on the telephone poles in the city and village.

“You’re not going to forget,” she said.

What bothers her most, however, is many in the Fredonia community are unaware it happened. Some of this, more than one family member or friend has suggested, is due to the way the Fredonia Police Department handled the case.

Even though the beating incident happened July 21, it took the agency 14 days to alert the public to the crime. In August 2018, former Chief Bradley Meyers defended his department’s actions in trying to prevent “hearsay” in the community about the horrific incident while interviewing witnesses and suspects. Meyers, who retired from his position earlier this month, even contended there were messages left with his staff by a key suspect who fled the area after the homicide.

In fact, Curtis noted, she found out not long after the incident that her brother had a benefit card. Alarmingly, it was used 24 hours after Hall had been transported. “Transactions were made the Sunday after they beat him,” she said.

Currently, police note, the case remains open and has been presented to the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s office. “There wasn’t enough evidence to move it forward,” said Sgt. David Price of the department.

That has become the greatest fear of Curtis, who resides in the Fredonia area. Will Hall become another unsolved mystery that plagues northern Chautauqua County? She quickly rattled off the Dunkirk death of Billy Taft in 2005 and the double-homicides in the town of Jerry Nickerson and Mark Trautman from 2006, which were recently featured in a Buffalo television newscast.

Hall died days before his 48th birthday. Still, many who knew Hall loved him — and more than 75 people turned up in Barker Common to remember and celebrate a man who was quick to bond with just about anyone he would meet.

“He wouldn’t hurt anybody,” his sister said. “My brother cannot fight. Wouldn’t go asking for a fight.

“Everybody loved my brother.”

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.

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