Almost a decade since the tragic events on the Rowan University campus, the murder of a student remains unsolved.
On the evening of Oct. 27, 2007, sophomore Donnie Farrell was murdered near the Triad Apartments while walking with a group of his friends. Five men jumped Farrell for his wallet and cell phone and beat him after they asked him for directions to a party.
Farrell was taken to Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. He died in the trauma ICU the next day due to his injuries.
Nine years later, the investigation as to who killed Farrell is still ongoing through the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
Although much time has passed, Farrell’s family and friends, as well as the Rowan community, have been working to keep his memory alive. The Rowan men’s club lacrosse team, which was started by Farrell and his friends, has been holding an annual tournament called ‘LAX for Donnie,’ the third running of which was in April. Since his death, a food drive has also been held in his name by the Morris County Interfaith Food Pantry.
“It just breaks my heart that nobody’s been found, that nobody has come forward after all these years,” ” said Kathy Farrell, Donnie’s mother.
“It’s just an amazing phenomenon that they could be walking around and I don’t get to hold him or kiss him goodnight,” she said.
Even with a $100,000 reward being offered by police, anyone that has come forward with information has only led investigators to dead end after dead end.
“It was homecoming, there were hundreds of thousands of people on campus,” said Lt. Langdon Sills of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. “It could have been anybody.”
For as long as the University has been around, there has never been another attack like the one that took Farrell’s life. Aside from the occasional stolen bike and alcohol- and drug-related violations, Rowan’s campus faces few incidents of criminal violence.
“I would never have thought that Rowan was an unsafe campus,” Kathy Farrell said. “I never would have let him go if I knew that could have happened.”
Most current students do not know Donnie’s story, as many of them were of elementary-school age when his death occurred on campus. Still, as time passes, people will always be reminded of the name Donnie Farrell.
“The [former] SGA President said to me, ‘As long as there are students at Rowan University, Donnie will never be forgotten,'” Kathy Farrell said. “It was amazing that a boy that didn’t know Donnie said that.”
At the time of his murder, Farrell was only in his second year. But in his short time at Rowan, he did make an impact; his mother recalls coming to visit, meeting the many friends he made. There’s also the fact that he was one of the founding members of Rowan men’s club lacrosse.
“He absolutely loved Rowan,” Farrell said. “He was very popular, he was handsome, he was outgoing, he was funny as can be, everyone loved to be around him.”
According to Farrell, thousands of people from all over the country attended the funeral for her son. It was apparent from that gesture, and the floods of condolences the family received, how many lives he had an affect on in just 19 years.
“The state troopers closed Route 80 as his casket passed,” she said. “Every single corner from the mass to where he was buried had police blocking every single corner. There were so many people at his funeral and funeral mass. It’s hard for me to put into words, how much honor was given to him.
“He touched many lives in his time, more than I ever could in my time,” she said. “That’s what keeps me going, and what helps me. He had a heart of gold.”
The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office is actively trying to solve Farrell’s case and they urge anyone to come forward with any information they may have.
“Donnie Farrell hasn’t gone forgotten,” Sills said. “I would like the public to know [the case] is not solved. It’s not in a box on someone’s shelf.”
Additional Resources for providing information related to Farrell’s case are listed below.
Tips can either be called in to 856-384-5604, or submitted anonymously online at https://mypolicedepartment.org/gloucester-county-prosecutors-office/tipform/.
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