Justice still elusive in murder of gay S. Philly man
by Angela Thomas
Jun 20, 2013 | 1701 views | 0 0 comments | 295 295 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Around this time last year, 30-year-old Michael J. Fox was getting ready for his return to the world of artistic roller skating, hoping to regain momentum from his glory days as an award-winning skating champion.

Fox, however, would never get to lace up his skates again. He was found dead in his South Philadelphia apartment June 22, the victim of a murder.

Fox lived in an apartment on the corner of Eighth and Christian streets and was found in a pool of blood on his bedroom floor. According to an autopsy, he died of blunt-force trauma to the head.

One year later, his killer has yet to be apprehended.

Fox was an openly gay man who enjoyed hair styling, make-up, fashion and spending time with his friends and family.

Fox’s mother, Diane Fox, said the aspiring stylist and make-up artist was a pleasure growing up.

“He had a great sense of humor. Michael had great timing. He was very creative, whether it was in art or singing,” Diane said.

Fox grew up in South Jersey but eventually moved to Philadelphia. He worked at Gap stores in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, winning a number of workplace awards.

Fox graduated from Oak Crest High School in Mays Landing, N.J., and went on to attend the Art Institute of Philadelphia for design, but did not complete his education there.

“With Michael, it was 120 percent or nothing,” Diane said.

He had most recently attended Jean Madeline Aveda Institute.

“His passion was in hair and make-up. If you didn’t coordinate, he would let you know,” Fox said.

Fox said her son came out when he was a sophomore in high school and later revealed to her the difficulties of being gay in high school.

“I had been asking questions, but he wasn’t forthcoming to me and then when he was a sophomore, he came and told me he was gay,” Diane said. “Later in the years, I told him how great it was that he came out so early in life and commended him for doing so, but Michael did let me know how hard it was in high school because there was bullying happening in his school.”

But things got much better for her son when he moved to Philadelphia, Diane said.

“He always loved Philly and he was comfortable with that community,” she said. “After working at the Gap, he started bartending at Woody’s and felt very comfortable there.”

But, all of that changed last summer.

Fox was last seen June 20. When he was found by a roommate, his bedroom had been ransacked and authorities believe the incident may have stemmed from a robbery.

Detectives believe the killer was someone Fox knew personally, but no person of interest or suspect has been publicly identified.

Police spokesperson Officer Jillian Russell said that Homicide Capt. James Clark said there are no leads in the case.

“Detectives are actively working the case and will continue to ask for the public’s assistance if they may have seen anything the day of his murder,” Russell said.

Diane said she is satisfied with the detective work on the case.

“We are very pleased with the officers who are in charge of his case. They are truly working hard, there are just no leads and every time they think there is a lead, it comes to a dead end,” she said, noting that lead investigator Detective Jim Burns has been especially responsive. “He has been in touch with me every week or every other week and I believe Detective Burns is like that anyway but as Michael’s parents, we would make sure that if we didn’t hear from them, they would hear from us.”

On May 18, WPVI ran an update on Fox’s story. The Citizens Crime Commission and the city are offering a reward of up to $21,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Fox’s murderer.

“I think the Crime Commission and Channel 6 did an excellent job on that piece. Our parents were ecstatic. Michael was close to every family member, whether it was his sister, nieces, nephews, cousins — they were all pleased with the piece,” Diane said.

Diane said her son’s death has been difficult for their entire family, especially his sister.

“It has been difficult for his sister losing him. She has two children and it was fortunate that he was able to spend some time with them, but she feels like they will never know Uncle Michael. We’ve been strong for each other and we know we have to keep going on, but it is difficult, especially due to the nature of the crime that happened.”

Diane said the family plans on distributing fliers around the area where Fox lived and will continue their contact with Burns.

The family has also started a scholarship in Fox’s name, which will be dispersed every year on his birthday in October.

While Diane said her family is aware that justice could take time, she is confident that the killer will ultimately be caught.

“People have asked me if we will have closure when his killer is caught and I don’t know that you ever have that when you lose a child. We will definitely have answers and that is really what we are looking for. We don’t know why, who or what happened and it will be justice for Michael, but for us? I don’t know that until we get there. We won’t know but we hope that happens and we do realize it could be tomorrow, a year or three years from now.”

Anyone with information on Fox’s murder is urged to call the Citizens Crime Commission anonymous tipline at 215-546-TIPS.

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