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  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph

    John Hendricks attends an impromptu candlelight vigil in front of 13 Spruce St., in Nashua, where Paul Frontiero was stabbed to death, Sunday night.
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Friends gather, praise Frontiero as selfless, beautiful

NASHUA – There was something beautiful happening at 13 Spruce St. on Tuesday evening.

For a handful of minutes – separated by a couple of days and a few yards from an ugly act of violence that robbed them of their friend – a dozen or more of Paul Frontiero’s friends came together to remember the 27-year-old EMT and Nashua resident. Laughing at his quirks, sobbing in one another’s arms, the group of friends ad-libbed their way through a sort of spontaneous memorial to Frontiero.

Frontiero was stabbed multiple times Sunday night, including once in the heart, after an apparently random confrontation around 10:30 p.m. He was pronounced dead soon after at a city hospital. Police have charged 19-year-old Nashua resident Matthew Packer with second-degree murder.

Frontiero may be a murder victim, but he was a lot of other things too, his friends said.

For Alicia Ford, he was a date. She and Frontiero were the single ones in the group. Whenever there was a dinner out or a wedding to attend, well, it was easy to find a date for the evening, Ford said.

For Dan Champagne, Frontiero was a sort of mentor. Champagne is studying to become an EMT. He and Frontiero talked a lot about the job, the rush he got when he ran out to help save someone and the emotional toll when he couldn’t. Frontiero gave Champagne a textbook he needed for one of his classes. It’s still at his apartment.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get through all that without help,” he said.

For Traci Denver, he was a best friend, a rock.

“I don’t think anybody’s life is ever going to be the same,” Denver said. “He was just a beautiful person.”

Casey Mooney loved watching sports with Frontiero. He was a huge fan of the Boston sports teams, especially the Bruins. One of Mooney’s all-time favorite memories was watching the Bruins clinch the Stanley Cup with Frontiero last spring.

“It was beautiful. We were all laughing and crying and having a great time,” he said.

When the sun went down, another group of friends gathered in front of the house and clutched candles shielded by Styrofoam cups. John Hendricks, of Gloucester, Mass., and Brittney Bigge, of Lynn, Mass., made the trip to Nashua. They both met Frontiero as employees at the Best Buy store in Danvers, Mass.

“He was my buddy. We hung out all the time,” Bigge said. “He was just the most selfless person I ever met in my life. I still expect to see him.”

Hendricks said Frontiero meant a lot of things to him. He loved him. His wife and kids loved him. Frontiero would make him laugh, keep him out of trouble when he maybe had a little too much to drink. When Hendricks was temporarily separated from his wife a couple of years ago, Frontiero made a point to visit his wife, to check on her and the kids.

“He was a one in a million. I don’t know how else to put it. I never met anyone like him,” Hendricks said. “I could sit here for hours and talk about him. Biggest heart you ever seen in your life.”

Jill Arnold hadn’t known Frontiero as long as some of his other friends, but she came to cherish Tuesday nights. She would come home from work and Frontiero would be on a day off. They would make dinner together and spend the evening watching bad TV shows and laughing.

“I treasured coming home on Tuesdays and knowing that was going to happen,” Arnold said.

To all of his friends, Frontiero was a hero. Frontiero tackled a man – Packer, according to police – who was threatening two of Frontiero’s friends, Arnold and Kathryn Libby , both 29, with a knife, Arnold said.

During the struggle, Arnold received minor scratches and cuts. Libby suffered a serious stab wound but was released from the hospital Tuesday. Frontiero was stabbed multiple times, and fatally.

“I honestly don’t know what else you can say about someone who died to save his friends except thank you,” Tyrus Runion said choking back sobs. “Thank you, man, and God bless you.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).