posted on July 28, 2011 17:15
The question now haunts Sheriff's Department investigators in the death of Deborah Maniace: "Why?"
They know how Deborah died – as the result of a long fall from the Route 33 railroad overpass in Stafford. And they know she was at her boyfriend's home just prior, where she stormed out and began walking to her Batavia home after they had a fight.
But just why Deborah plunged to her death at 2:00am that fateful night last August, investigators don't know. And Chief Investigator Jerome Brewster doesn't anticipate an answer very soon.
"At one point, she was on top of the bridge. The next moment, she was at the bottom," says Brewster. "We don't know what transpired in between."
That lack of answers and closure extends to Deborah's family, who gathered on that same bridge today to remember her, on what would have been her 48th birthday. Deborah's sister and four children wrote messages on helium-filled balloons, then released them into the rain-threatening skies.
"I still haven't grieved over it fully," said Justina Maniace, Deborah's eldest daughter. "I keep myself busy trying to watch over my sisters...I want to be there for them."
As a train rumbled beneath them and cars whizzed by, the family hugged each other and looked out over the concrete barrier.
Chief Brewster has been hoping since last year that a witness would step forward. He knows from surveillance cameras at nearby stores that cars were also passing that night, as Deborah walked over that bridge. Drivers or passengers may hold the final clue.
"We're going to need some more help," he said.
But one clue may come from the family, and their faith in the Deborah they know.
"I don't feel it was accidental, and I don't feel it was intentional," says Justina. "I feel that somebody did something. And we don't know who...or what."
WBTA News Intern Kimberly Eysaman contributed to this report. Photos by Kimberly Eysaman