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  • Christopher Vydfol, 20, is shown last fall holding his new kitten, Sydney. Vydfol was killed at a Halloween party in Merrimack last October.



    -courtesy photo
  • Christopher Vydfol, 20, is shown with his mother, Lorri Geoffroy, of Nashua, in a photograph taken on New Year's Eve 2009.



    -courtesy photo
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel Corey Furgal is led from Merrimack District Court Monday, November 2, 2009.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Corey Furgal enters courtroom 8 at the Hillsborough County Superior Courthouse in Nashua Monday, April5, 2010.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Family struggles forward after son’s murder

NASHUA – Every now and then, she catches a glimpse of him in the newspaper.

A dark-haired man, orange jumpsuit, face seemingly blank.

A man who is accused of killing her son.

Lorri Geoffroy understands the way it goes. When people are charged with such a crime, the media follows them through the justice system.

But Geoffroy worries that with all the focus on the man, Corey Furgal, people will never know who her son, Christopher Vydfol, really was – that he was more than a victim in a news story.

“I want everyone to know how wonderful Chris was as a person,” Geoffrey said, sitting for an interview during her lunch break last week.

Geoffroy, a medical receptionist who lives in Nashua, was speaking out for the first time since Vydfol was fatally stabbed at a Halloween party last October.

In remembering how close she was to her 20-year-old son, Geoffroy’s voice broke.

“He called me four or five times a day,” she said. “I miss his phone calls. I miss his voice.

“He was my best friend.”

***

Lorri Geoffroy raised her three sons in Merrimack.

The youngest, Chris, was a shy kid who loved tagging along with his older brothers, Joe and Steve.

Chris Vydfol liked computer games and movies such as “The Boondock Saints” and “American History X.”

He wolfed down meatball subs and Chinese pie, and listened to heavy-metal music.

He also loved animals. He had just adopted a Calico kitten named “Sydney.”

Chris Vydfol left Merrimack High School during his junior year, around the time Geoffroy and her ex-husband, Joseph Vydfol Sr., were divorcing.

Chris Vydfol then took a job washing dishes at Joanne’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop, where Lorri Geoffroy and her mother, Sue Geoffroy of Nashua, waitress on weekends.

Sue Geoffroy, “Mimi” to her grandsons, loved working at the diner with Chris. But a lot of customers took one look at his tattoos, piercings and black clothes and had other ideas.

“People would come in, not knowing I was his Mimi, and say, ‘They allow him to expose his tattoos?’ ” Geoffroy said. “I said, ‘Well yeah, they’re not dirty.’ ”

“Once they got to know Chris, they changed their mind. He had a kind heart.”

In recent months, Lorri Geoffroy said, her son got an apartment of his own and was starting to talk about getting his GED.

In short, he was trying to get his life in order.

One other thing is for sure, his family said: Chris Vydfol didn’t like to fight. That’s why they don’t understand Furgal’s argument that he was acting in self-defense.

Now, Sue Geoffroy said, her grandson can’t defend himself.

“He’s not here,” she said. “Everyone has to do it for him.”

***

Robert Brackett has known the Vydfol brothers for most of his life. In high school, they could often be found riding bikes and skateboards in the area of Merrimack Commons.

That’s also where the friends sometimes ran into Corey Furgal, Brackett said. He never got a good feeling about Furgal and avoided him.

Brackett grew closer with Chris Vydfol within the past couple of years, he said.

The youngest Vydfol was quieter than his older brothers, but was becoming more outspoken and outgoing. He folded nicely into their group.

Late last October, Brackett decided to have some friends over for a Halloween party at his dad’s house on Bedford Road in Merrimack. His dad was out of town; Brackett’s mother died several years ago.

The gathering started out with 15 or 20 people Brackett knew from high school.

“Corey was not invited,” Brackett said, adding that another person got wind of the party and showed up with Furgal. “They were told not to come over, but they did anyway.”

At some point, a skirmish kicked up outside.

Multiple witnesses told police that a dispute started over a guest’s missing iPod, and that Furgal refused to empty his pockets when asked. Instead, witnesses said, Furgal brandished a knife and began making threats.

Accounts differ as to what happened next. One witness told police that Vydfol tried to talk with Furgal, which led to an argument. Another said Vydfol and Furgal met in the driveway, and Furgal brandished the knife as he tried to pass Vydfol.

Brackett heard about the stabbing from inside his house.

He remembered becoming “filled with so much rage.”

He remembered seeing Vydfol walking in the driveway, fingers interlaced at his chest.

Brackett saw blood.

He saw people starting to crowd around his friend. He heard that Furgal had been involved.

Brackett heard people call 911.

He ran to the end of the driveway, looking for Furgal.

He ran back to his Jeep, looking for a baseball bat.

He gave chase, across the street to a neighbor’s house, later catching up to Furgal back in the driveway, where he hit him across the back with the bat.

He remembered that the police showed up just then.

Brackett was hauled to the police department and charged with facilitating an underage drinking party. (The charge has since been dismissed in anticipation that Brackett will testify for the state.)

That morning, inside his holding cell, Brackett thought he hadn’t seen much blood on his friend. He believed Vydfol would be okay. A while later, an officer told him otherwise.

“I wanted to rip those bars off there,” he said. “I don’t think I stopped crying. I couldn’t believe it. It’s one of those things, like they were playing a joke on me. It didn’t feel real.”

***

On Halloween morning, Lorri Geoffroy had checked up on her sons. They mentioned they would be going out.

“I was happy they were together,” she said. “That’s what they always have done.”

Hours later, at 2 a.m., her phone rang.

It was her son, Joe.

“He said, ‘Chris has been stabbed. It’s not life-threatening,’ ” Geoffroy recalled.

She and her fiance, Mark Francoeur, went to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center to wait for the ambulance. They were eventually ushered to the family waiting area, which Geoffroy knew from experience as a hospital employee was not a good sign.

Doctors arrived to tell them how bad it was, she said. They wanted to stabilize Chris before airlifting him for surgery at another hospital.

Then, doctors decided to do the surgery in Nashua.

Before then, Geoffroy got a chance to see Chris, who was in bad shape.

She touched his forehead.

“Chris, I hope you’re all right,” she recalled saying.

Then, suddenly, the machines went off. His heart stopped.

She was rushed out of the room with no chance to tell him she loved him.

Her son was pronounced dead three hours later.

***

As she had for the past 25 years, Sue Geoffroy reported for work at Joanne’s that Sunday, Nov. 1.

She knew immediately something was wrong. Her daughter and grandsons were waiting with the horrific news.

Two days later, Sue Geoffroy was suffering from chest pain. She landed in the hospital herself.

Her diagnosis: Takotsubo, a cardiologoical condition brought on by extreme emotional stress.

Takotsubo is also known as “broken heart syndrome.”

***

In the immediate aftermath of her son’s death, Lorri Geoffroy found herself in “total denial.”

She didn’t know what to do.

She was out of work for three months. She couldn’t sleep.

She couldn’t remember if she’d even washed her hair.

“All I could think of was Chris,” she said. “As a mom, you do whatever you can for your kids. I wasn’t there to help him. That’s what moms do. It destroys you.”

Geoffroy found a bit of solace in joining Compassionate Friends, a support group for people who have lost their children.

“I kind of fake it ’til I make it,” she said. “I function because I have to. It’s still new.”

The pain, they say, will get softer, bit by bit. And it has, Geoffroy agreed. But she knows it will never go away.

Karen Lovett can be reached at 594-6402 or klovett@nashuatelegraph.com.