Memorial event planned for Toys R Us murder victim

BLASDELL, N.Y. (WIVB) – The anniversary of the Hamburg Toys R Us murder is on June 29. It will be a sad day for many who knew and loved Larry Wells.

“Larry wasn’t just a great person, he was exceptional” said Michelle Rizzo, Wells’ cousin.

Wells’ wife Jill explained that the days leading up to the anniversary have been tough. “It’s hard. It’s been a really difficult month for me. With my daughter graduating preschool and getting ready to go to kindergarten I just wish he was here with us,” said Wells.

Wells was stabbed to death at work at Toys R Us last summer on June 29. Bernard Grucza pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing.

Wells not only left behind a pregnant wife, but a daughter, Madison, as well. As a way for her to cope with the tragic loss Maddy started writing notes for her dad.

“She started doing it at the funeral she drew pictures, wrote tons of stuff to him and put them in with him,” said Wells.

Madison continues today to tie notes to balloons and sends them to heaven for her dad.

The Wells family story inspired local author Matt Chandler to write a children’s book about how to cope with the loss of a loved one or pet.

“I didn’t know the Wells family but as soon as I heard about it, it’s like you know them,” said Chandler.

His book “Balloons for Heaven” will launch during an event to celebrate the life of Larry. The memorial event will take place on the anniversary of his death at Fireman’s Park.

The event is open to the public. People who attend can write a note to Larry or a loved one they lost. Then they’ll attached them to balloons and release them.

The family said they are so grateful Chandler being so kind and putting the event together.

“I don’t know what we would have done next week. We would have just cried all day. So this is a really good opportunity for us to come out and offer comfort to the community, get comfort from the community and help Madison and Paityn and all of my family heal,” said Rizzo.

The memorial event for Larry Wells is taking place on Sunday, June 29 at 2 p.m. at Fireman’s Park, located at 205 Lake Avenue in Blasdell.

Chandler is also donating all of the proceeds from book to Larry’s daughters.

You can purchase the book at the event or you can also buy a book online at provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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