Friends, family, strangers pull together at candlelight vigil for Joey LaBute

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Even after the discovery of his body in the Scioto River, questions about Joey LaBute, Jr.’s disappearance continue to plague his friends and the community.

“We kind of assumed, but we had hope that it wasn’t,” Todd Goodsite said of the discovery of the body.

On Thursday, the coroner said the body had been positively identified as LaBute. The 26-year-old had last been seen more than three weeks ago, at the Union Café in the Short North.

LaBute was reported missing March 5 from the Union Cafe on High St.
LaBute was reported missing March 5 from the Union Cafe on High St.

Friends and community members gathered at the Goodale Park gazebo on Thursday evening for a vigil in LaBute’s memory. As the weather turned rainy and windy, dozens stood in and around the gazebo, holding candles and bowing their heads for a moment of silence.

“I think in times like this, it’s very hard when we don’t have the answers that we want, when we don’t have the ‘how’ and the ‘why,’” said Aaron Eckhardt of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.

For Brad Bonacci, who said he’s been friends with LaBute since 2010, knowing his friend’s body was found brings no relief.

“Closure doesn’t exist to me,” Bonacci said. “I’ve lost numerous amounts of friends and closure’s never there.”

He said when someone is suddenly gone, closure isn’t possible.

“I would never get to say goodbye,” Bonacci said. “I would never get to say I’m sorry for anything that we ever had or any ill will.”

It was a difficult emotion to process, even for those who didn’t know LaBute well.

“We are a whole as a community and there’s no separate parts and when one is missing, we all feel for that,” said Montrese Hollar, a local entertainer who told NBC4 he didn’t know LaBute well.

Todd Goodsite, another friend, said LaBute’s disappearance had been difficult, even with the discovery of his body.

“I think it is a relief for some people, because I think a lot of people thought it wasn’t going to end well and now at least you know and you’re not wondering what’s going on,” Goodsite said. “But, you know, imagine the family and stuff. That’s not the answer you want to hear.”

The coroner said Thursday that it could take six to eight weeks before toxicology results are available. Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate how LaBute ended up in the Scioto River.

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