28 years after high school stabbing, friends clean up unkempt memorial

Apr 14, 2021

On April 12, the anniversary of her brother Jason’s death, Shauna Robinson normally goes to the cemetery with her family to put down flowers and take care of his grave.

She also goes to the former high school — now Dartmouth Middle School — to place a flower outside the annex door where he died, and puts flowers on his memorial at Crapo Field.

Nearly 30 years ago, 16-year-old Jason Robinson was stabbed to death in his high school social studies class. The memorial at the field was meant to honor his memory.

But this year, Robinson said, she broke down on the spot.

“I wanted to throw up, I was so so disgusted,” she said. “Every year I get more and more aggravated at the condition that it’s in, and every year it gets worse.”

The memorial was in “disarray,” she noted, strewn with leaf litter and cigarette butts, growing grass and weeds and with dark spots on the stone marker rendering the words — “In memory of Jason Robinson - Stop the violence” — nearly illegible.

“It’s very disrespectful to Jason's memory,” his sister said, adding that this isn’t the first time she’s called to complain.

“A few years back I called and complained because they had a garbage barrel on the side of it,” Robinson noted. “They finally took the garbage barrel away, but I was pretty horrified.”

The town dedicated the memorial to Jason shortly after his 1993 murder. 

But since then, Robinson and family friend Kathy Normore have discovered that no department is responsible for the memorial’s upkeep.

Normore said that she’s contacted the parks department, Dartmouth Youth Activities Association, and now the Select Board, trying to find someone to take responsibility for maintenance.

“We are outraged,” said Normore. “With everything going on in this country, I think it’s just a travesty. This kid got murdered in his classroom, for crying out loud!”

“If it was a kid from Padanaram it’d be a different story,” she added.

Robinson noted that the town is “working right now very quickly to put somebody on it.”

No one at the Parks department or Select Board offices was able to comment, although they did say they are working on it.

In the meantime, friends and former classmates have pulled together to fix up the memorial.

Normore has scrubbed off the mildew and lichen, while a friend identified only by his first name Jarrad took the trouble to weed and mulch the spot.

“He did a really good thing for my family,” said Robinson. “I feel blessed.”

She added that if the town doesn’t find someone to maintain its own memorial, she’ll do it herself.

“I’ll mulch it every year if I have to,” Robinson said. “I’ll take care of it if they don’t.”