Walking for Wayne, and for justice

It’s been 10 years since the murder of Fishtown man Wayne El­liss, Jr. On Ju­ly 28 his fam­ily and friends will march to re­mem­ber him, and maybe find some an­swers.

Ju­ly 28 will mark the 10th an­niversary of the death of Fishtown man Wayne El­liss, Jr.

On that day, the fam­ily and friends of the 21-year-old fath­er, emer­gency med­ic­al tech­ni­cian, and hus­band-to-be will march the same steps they be­lieve he walked be­fore he was shot dead at the in­ter­sec­tion of Bel­grade Street and Frank­ford Av­en­ue in 2002.

They are call­ing the march The Justice for Wayne walk.

It has been 10 years since his murder, and those who knew him are no closer to find­ing out who took the prom­ising life their friend, their broth­er, and their son.

On the day of the walk, at 10 a.m., the El­liss fam­ily – and any­one who wants to join them – plan to march from Front and Spring Garden streets to the in­ter­sec­tion of Bel­grade Street and Frank­ford Av­en­ue.

“We are ba­sic­ally walk­ing the way we think he walked that night,” said Amy El­liss, 32, El­liss’ sis­ter.

On the night El­liss was murdered, he spent the even­ing with friends at Club Deco, a long-closed nightclub that once stood at the in­ter­sec­tion of Front and Spring Garden streets.

After a night at the bar, just one week pri­or to his 22nd birth­day, El­liss called his fath­er, Wayne El­liss Sr., for a ride home, but his fath­er had no car to pick up his son.

El­liss then de­cided to walk the one mile from the bar to his grand­par­ents’ house at Bel­grade Street and Frank­ford Av­en­ue.

At some point pri­or to his ar­rival, at about 3:30 a.m., El­liss was shot once in his left arm and once in his chest.

After he crawled to the steps in front of his grand­par­ents’ home, El­liss, a fath­er to Hay­ley - then 3, now 13 – died of his in­jur­ies.

His grand­fath­er heard the shots.

By the time he got to his grand­son’s side, El­liss was dead.

“He still had his cell phone, but he lost his keys and his wal­let,” said El­liss Sr., adding that po­lice told the fam­ily they be­lieved the murder was mo­tiv­ated by rob­bery.

In the dec­ade since his death, there have been no ar­rests made for any­one who might be re­spons­ible for El­liss’ murder.

El­liss Sr. said he can’t be­lieve the cir­cum­stances of his son’s death.

“He was a hell of a kid,” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view Ju­ly 13. “He was an ath­lete, a para­med­ic, a really good kid. And, I’m not say­ing that be­cause he was my son.”

El­liss at­ten­ded North Cath­ol­ic High School, Holy Name of Je­sus and St. Bon­iface, and was a con­sum­mate ath­lete. He played in Fishtown’s an­nu­al Freddy Adams Sports Tour­na­ment and on the soft­ball team for the An­cient Or­der of Hi­ber­ni­ans Di­vi­sion 51.

In the wake of the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on New York City, El­liss’ fath­er said the young man drove from Phil­adelphia to the World Trade Cen­ter to provide any help he could.

“He knew ex­actly what he wanted to do with his life,” said Cath­er­ine Hart, El­liss Sr.’s fianc&ea­cute;. “He wanted to be there to help.”

“He was a para­med­ic, but he al­ways wanted to be a cop,” said El­liss Sr.

A $12,000 re­ward from the Cit­izens Crime Com­mis­sion still stands for in­form­a­tion lead­ing to the cap­ture of El­liss’ killer.

The fam­ily hopes the Justice for Wayne walk will bring at­ten­tion to the case and hope­fully jog people’s memor­ies to help bring clos­ure to the fam­ily.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing that nobody seems to know what happened,” she said. “The idea is to get this back out there and get some­body to talk.”

Even after years of dis­in­teg­rat­ing leads, dead ends and time spent wait­ing, the El­liss fam­ily said they nev­er gave up on be­liev­ing that the man who killed El­liss would be caught.

Amy El­liss said the Phil­adelphia Po­lice haven’t giv­en up either, and they speak reg­u­larly with an of­ficer who is cur­rently work­ing on the cold case in­vest­ig­a­tion.

“The po­lice keep say­ing they have leads, but it al­ways turns out to be noth­ing,” said the vic­tim’s sis­ter. “But it would be much more dif­fi­cult if there was nobody work­ing on it. Like if it was just in a box some­where.”

Amy El­liss said that they couldn’t get the ne­ces­sary per­mit from the city for the up­com­ing march – the dis­tance was too far, she said – but that’s not go­ing to stop them from walk­ing.

“We are go­ing to do it any­way,” she said.

“We need to keep this alive,” said the eld­er El­liss. “We need to break the si­lence.”

As he spoke, El­liss paused to catch his breath and wipe his eyes.

“Hope­fully, some­body will know something and say something,” in­ter­jec­ted his fianc&ea­cute;.

Star Staff Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be con­tac­ted at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com.

The Justice for Wayne Walk

The Justice for Wayne walk will be­gin at Club Deco on Front and Spring Garden streets head­ing to Frank­ford Av­en­ue at Bel­grade Street.

It costs $20 per per­son to par­ti­cip­ate, and there will be a beef-and-beer at 3 p.m. after the walk. It costs $30 to at­tend the beef-and-beer without walk­ing. All money raised will be donated to the AOH Fishtown Di­vi­sion 51.

For info., call Amy El­liss at 267-339-1133, or Wayne El­liss Sr. at 215-913-6437.

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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