Rutgers University

Life After the Murder Trial: Honoring the Legacy of Billy McCaw

35bbf0f8931964abc118_mccaw2.jpg
Players wear the name and number of Billy McCaw, who was murdered in New Brunswick in 2014, during a recent soccer tournament in his honor.
e623571c36892d6da32b_1970651_10203219755755728_392248570_n.jpg
Billy McCaw Credits: Facebook
d0dce438803bc4461544_mccaw_ru1.jpg
Billy McCaw Credits: Anik Chadha/Facebook
35bbf0f8931964abc118_mccaw2.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — They call him Billy the Kid.

They play soccer because it’s his sport. They wear No. 9 because it’s his number. They smile and laugh, even as they compete hard as ever, because it’s his style.

But most of all, they miss him.

Sign Up for E-News

“Something like this embodies what Billy was about,” Dylan Klemuk-San Martin said as feet shuffled across the indoor gym at Rutgers’ Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on a Sunday in late April. “He was about bringing people together. You really felt like you’ve known him your whole life after you met him once.”

He—Billy the Kid—was Billy McCaw. The former Rutgers student left what many consider an irremovable mark on New Brunswick, the university community and those he met. And a couple hundred people had come to Busch Campus on a sunny day last month to honor the young man through Pi Kappa Phi’s fourth annual Billy McCaw Futsal Cup, a 16-team soccer tournament meant to carry forth his name and raise money for his favorite charity.

McCaw’s legacy became a topic of discussion only after he was found murdered on a cold morning in February 2014. He had been bludgeoned and left for dead in a snow-covered backyard on Hartwell Street in New Brunswick. He was 22.

For years, McCaw’s family and friends sat through the criminal investigation, trial and sentencing of his killer. In March, a judge sentenced a New Brunswick resident, Timothy Puskas, who still maintains his innocence, to 40 years in prison for the crime.

With that chapter closed, McCaw’s loved ones saw to it that their lost pal would reclaim the headlines from his murderer on the day of the Futsal Cup. It was, they said, all about Billy the Kid.

“It is a little bit different this year now that we’ve gone through the trial,” Klemuk-San Martin said. “We can turn the page a little, but it’s not something you’re ever really going to get over or completely grieve.”

So who was McCaw the man, as opposed to McCaw the murder victim?

Talk to anyone in the gym that day, and you’d hear roughly the same thing: He was an excellent friend, frat brother, teammate and son. He was both a goofball and a leader who made everyone feel welcome, they said.

Players wear the name and number of Billy McCaw, who was murdered in New Brunswick in 2014, during a recent soccer tournament in his honor.

Bob McCaw should know. The father of Billy, Bob McCaw served as the voice of the family throughout the trial. He spoke with reporters on days when many in the courtroom were too emotional to chat with each other.

But long before that, Bob McCaw spent years coaching his son and his friends, on and off the soccer field. His connection to his son’s world shined brightly at the Futsal Cup, when the Tennessee resident took time to answer each “Hey, Mr. McCaw” with a hello and a thank-you.

In a way, the father had taken on a role that belonged to his son.

“When you send your children away to college, you don’t know their day-to-day existence. You don’t know the lives they’re affecting,” Bob McCaw said. “And through something like this, when you find out the reach that he had just as somebody who was able to make others comfortable—it’s just unbelievable to me.”

McCaw’s reputation gets passed down as lore in Pi Kappa Phi, the frat he helped to found. Each new member hears the grim story of his death, but more often they soak in details of the life he lived, frat brothers said.

Indeed, when a TAPinto New Brunswick reporter asked one of McCaw’s friends what the young man was known for, a Rutgers sophomore chimed in. He had never met McCaw.

“He was the nicest kid around,” Trentino Melone said. “He would give the shirt off his back to you in a heartbeat.”

Word of McCaw’s personality also spread to the prosecution, the police officers who investigated his murder and the jurors who decided upon the guilty verdict. Some attended the Futsal Cup with their families. The New Brunswick Police Department even fielded a team.

Dylan Klemuk-San Martin showcases a tattoo he got in memory of Billy McCaw.

Tournament participants played each game with vigor, blasting soccer balls against the walls, scuffing the floor and flailing for head shots. People in the crowd oohed and aahed after tough plays.

But onlookers and players alike, no matter their team, wore clothing tattooed with “9,” McCaw’s number, or “BTK,” short for Billy the Kid.

McCaw was a player’s teammate, his dad and friends said.

Klemuk-San Martin recalled a recreation soccer game in which he had two goals under his belt. He passed the ball to McCaw, who had an open net. McCaw’s response? “What are you doing, man? You should’ve gone for the hat trick,” a term used when a player scores three goals in one game.

McCaw considered his teammates’ individual victories his own, Bob McCaw said. That attitude produced what the father described as his “that’s my boy” moment.

When McCaw was around 10 years old, his baseball team was down by one run with the bases loaded. Whether they’d walk away winners or losers came down to one of the team’s struggling hitters. The kid fouled off about five two-strike pitches before ultimately striking out.

“He really battled,” Bob McCaw said. “I’ll never forget seeing Billy, a 10-year-old kid, walking up to his teammate at the end of the game, putting his arm around him and telling him how great an at-bat that was.

“And I’m just like, ‘He gets it,’ ” Bob McCaw added.

Futsal Cup participants played hard in honor of Billy McCaw.

Since the murder, those in Billy McCaw’s social circles have also proven to be top-notch teammates, Bob McCaw said.

The Futsal Cup, for instance, drew 128 players—some of them alumni who knew McCaw—and roughly 200 people this year. They raised thousands of dollars for The Ability Experience, a nonprofit that benefits children with disabilities. Before that, they took time off work, dressed well and spoke about McCaw in court.

“To us, this is a big thing,” Mitch Seigel, a friend of McCaw’s, said. “This is a very meaningful time for all of us.”

It’s also meaningful for Matt McCaw, the teenager whose big brother was ripped from him on that winter night in 2014.

He was 13 at the time of the murder, Bob McCaw said. It took some time for him to open up about the tragedy. As his father sees it, the killing stole from Matt a sense of innocence—a belief that what’s best will happen.

During the Futsal Cup, he hung out with his older brother’s friends. They laughed and talked soccer. Billy McCaw’s buddies had welcomed Matt as their own, Bob McCaw said, an action he considered indescribable.

But if you ask one of the guys, they’d say they got that sense of warmth from their old friend Billy the Kid.

“I make it my mission to live my life the way Billy would,” Klemuk-San Martin said. “There are times when I’ve been down or upset, or I get frustrated with life. But he never had that mindset, and if he did he’d never let you know it.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 14, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD - The typical sports fan in New Jersey has until 2026 to get excited about professional soccer. That's because the Meadowlands could be the epicenter of the soccer world, a contender to host the World Cup. It could be  an amazing coup for New Jersey, although expect worldwide marketers to try to convince everyone that the big game would be played in "New ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 13, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY - When the Hard Rock Café and Casino opens June 28, a strip club will also open on the property. But this isn't your typical, dark titty bar. No, it is 36,000 square feet of space, about the size of a typical Marshalls. So, figure the place is wall-to-wall strippers, each jiggling for money. That could equal about 300 jiggles per minute on a ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 12, 2018

STATEWIDE - Perhaps it is time for the state to upgrade to Windows 95, as the second big computer crash in a week spelled disaster for the state's computer systems. The biggest hit came to the state's Motor Vehicle agencies, jamming efforts to renew driver's licenses, or for people to get titles or register vehicles. This mess somehow made the lines at the MVC even longer, the ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 11, 2018

MANTUA - Ever hear of the Wenonah Police Department? Neither did we, but it doesn't really matter because it no longer exists. At 12:01 a.m. on June 1, the department officially disbanded, with the 2,200 residents of this speck of a town in Gloucester County now being protected and served by the Mantua Police Department - other cops we've never heard about. It was high time for the ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 7, 2018

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL - Consider it a wake-up call for Political Action Committees that don't file paperwork. The state's campaign financial watchdogs have slapped the "Central Jersey Democratic Leadership Committee" with more than $120,000 in fines for not reporting more than $100,000 in donations between 2005-2010. Left holding the bag for the non-defunct PAC is Union ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_b461bcb5f4e452996ec4_juneteenth_poster

Tue, June 19, 6:30 PM

Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, New Brunswick

Juneteenth - a Day of Remembrance

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, June 21, 8:00 PM

New Brunswick

Sing-a-Long Grease: 40th Anniversary

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to "HighPoint.com Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

Couple netted $8M from fake Uggs, designer bags, prosecutor says

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Plainsboro couple could face charges of of selling counterfeit designer shoes and handbags, netting $8 million and sending $3 million to people in China, authorities said today.

Yan Shi, 36, and her husband, Weiping Liu, 40, were arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy to violate the New Jersey Trademark ...

OPINION

Hearing Loss Common in School-Aged Children

May 30, 2018

With close to 15% of U.S. children ages 6–19 experiencing hearing loss, New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) notes that May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month is the ideal time for parents to learn more about the sometimes-subtle signs of hearing loss, ways it can affect school-aged children, and where to find help.

“Some children are born ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 15, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5  to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...