by Pete Mazzaccaro
On Monday morning, as we were busy preparing this issue of the paper, staffers here at the Local learned an awful truth: Regina Holmes, a longtime staffer at the paper, had been murdered in her East Mt. Airy home.
We knew something was wrong when Holmes failed to show up for her usual Monday morning shift, a shift for which she has often braved poor weather conditions and disagreeable health. It was, she often said, a job she couldn’t imagine being without.
Holmes, 85, worked two days a week at the Local, helping with proofreading and typing. It was a role she undertook nearly 20 years ago, making her one of the Local’s most tenured employees. She was spirited and energetic. She arrived for work during snowstorms. She collected photos of her grandchildren, which she was proud to display to anyone walking past her desk in the Editorial Department office. She wrote letters every day to her late partner Sam Exler.
She was an essential part of what made this office the Local. She was family.
We were prepared for bad news when she didn’t answer her phone, but we were not prepared for the details we learned later that day. And we were not prepared for the questions with which we were left: ”Why would anyone kill a grandmother? How could this have possibly happened?”
What we know now is as much as the police have told other news organizations. Holmes was found by police at 11 a.m. She had been beaten, stabbed and her throat slit. The murder likely occurred Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Nothing was noticed missing from the house except for Holmes’ 2007 Toyota Corolla, which was found Tuesday in North Philadelphia.
The crime was a breathtakingly cowardly act. It has shocked this staff and the community. The best we can hope for now is the swift capture of whoever did it. Anyone with information that they think might help homicide detectives solve the case should call the department at 215-686-3334.
No words can adequately describe the mix of shock and sadness the staff here is experiencing. And I can’t even begin to imagine what her family – two sons, three grandchildren and her partner – are going through. We will miss her very much.