Rutgers University

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

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.
Billy McCaw Credits: Facebook
Billy McCaw Credits: Anik Chadha/Facebook

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 - March 20, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - The governor has targeted The Hub City as the new hub for innovation and technology. Gov. Phil Murphy was in town yesterday to meet with city, business and Rutgers officials to chat about how all the ongoing downtown investment will be a magnet for scientific and technological innovation, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 19, 2018


TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 16, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Another commuting mess this morning, as the antiquated Portal Bridge got stuck in the "up" position at 4:22 a.m.  That caused a bunch of rush hour trains to be cancelled between Newark and Manhattan for four hours or so.  Both NJTransit and Amtrak riders were completely screwed. You may recall the proposed Gateway ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 15, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - When you rent out apartments to Rutgers students, expect some surprises. But one landlord received a shocker beyond expectation: a $8,117.07 water bill for the last three months of 2017, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The landlord went to the City Council meeting this week, pleading that the bill on his Comstock Street ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 14, 2018


TRENTON - Ever since we met Gov. Phil Murphy, he has been talking about the same stuff: higher taxes for the rich, saving NJ Transit, legalizing marijuana, giving more money to public schools and a higher minimum wage. So, when lawmakers went to Trenton yesterday to hear the rookie governor's first budget message, there weren't a lot of ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 13, 2018


TRENTON - As Gov. Phil Murphy prepares to deliver his first budget address at 2 p.m. today, at the State House, observers will be curious if his proposals jive with the state's pension mess. Look for the governor to talk about campaign topics like equal pay, health care, climate change, immigration and offshore drilling, as well as the proposed ...

Rutgers Student on Front Lines of Orangutan Conservation, Research

March 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Deep in a tropical forest in Borneo 15 years ago, Rutgers student Didik Prasetyo first encountered a young male orangutan that he named “Jerry.”

The great ape was one of several orangutans that Prasetyo and other researchers followed at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area in Indonesia. Prasetyo was skeptical when colleagues said ...

RU police investigate assault on Douglass campus

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University police are investigating an aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault  reported to March 14 at 3:55 a.m. in front of Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus.


The victim, not affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that she was walking with a male whom she did not know in the area of Commercial Avenue and George ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Three long-time city bars and restaurants become sites for new businesses

March 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – In 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, the nation was still suffering from the Great Depression, Donald Duck first appeared in a cartoon, and Tumulty’s restaurant opened in New Brunswick.

Twice the restaurant moved before settling in at 361 George Street, where it became a landmark.

Until now.

Tumulty’s is one of three long-time city restaurants, ...


This National Literacy Month, Let's Rein In Screen Time

March 13, 2018

Dear Editor: As speech-language pathologists across New Jersey prepare to mark “National March into Literacy Month,” let’s address the alarming number of young children who spend countless hours a day on a handheld screen.

According to a study from the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, the more time that children under two years spend on smartphones, tablets and ...

New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters Clinches Gold Certification

March 16, 2018

NEWARK - The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is proud to announce that the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters has once again received Gold Certification – awarded to the strongest chapters in the nation.

NJAHU achieved Gold Certification from national headquarters underscoring how well the organization has operated and achieved its lofty goals in the ...