JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- All it took was one horrible act of hatred for Matthew Hinson to allegedly kill Chicago father Christopher Pettry. Hinson slashed Pettry's throat at Fionn MacCool's on Saturday night. But a local man hopes one act of kindness can help restore faith in the people of Jacksonville.
"We can never bring Chris back and make things right but what we can do is maybe, just maybe, ease the sting a little bit," said John Deffes. The Jacksonville father has never met Pettry's widow Karen, or the three children he left behind, but he's made it his mission to help get the stay-at-home mom back on her feet with an online fundraiser.
Deffes says he was inspired by watching news coverage about Pettry's murder; it hit close to home.
"It was just the fact that I didn't see, like I said, anybody doing anything out there for her," he said. "I have a son in Afghanistan right now lugging around a machine gun and you know, I don't want to think about the worst things that can happen but that's just the way life is. So I just felt if given the chance the citizens of Jacksonville could do something."
And they have. In 24 hours, Deffes says he's already raised $2,000, most of that money has come from people right here in Jacksonville. Together, he hopes our area can raise a total of $25,000, or even more.
"It would be a step forward for us as a city to show that we can come forward in a tragedy like this and make things right," said Deffes.
As for Pettry's widow Karen, Deffes says she's very distraught.
"She cried throughout our conversation on the phone and she just the one thing that sticks out in our conversation she said it seems like I'm in a dream and I can't wake up," said Deffes.
While it's too soon for Karen Pettry to talk to us about her tragedy, she has provided us with this statement, thanking Deffes and the people of Jacksonville:
"John has done a really great thing for my family. I will never be able to thank him enough. All of the money has gone to my Pay Pal. I want to thank all the people of Jacksonville, too. Chris was our only source of income, because I'm a stay-at-home mom. When all this happened, I was so worried, I would have to really change my kids' lives even more besides losing their daddy. With John's help, I hope that I can keep them in our home and there daily routine a little normal. God bless you all and thank you so much."
If you would like to donate to the Pettry family, visit the website created by Deffes