Local officials, family friends and countless Montgomery residents gathered Sunday to remember Danny Meyer with a candlelit vigil at the playground dedicated to him in the Village of Maybrook. Speakers throughout the event told residents to sign a petition and write letters to the New York State Parole Board urging them to keep Danny’s killer in prison.
Maybrook Mayor Dennis Leahy was close with Danny’s family. He remarked that the twelve-year-old boy’s murder on June 15, 1996 shook the village to its core. Danny had been killed by Juan Peinado, a 22-year-old Maybrook resident, as he passed through the woods on the way to his Little League Baseball game.
Residents could not believe that such a heinous crime could happen in a municipality with such a low crime rate. Leahy noted that Danny was a baseball player, a member of Boy Scout Troop 236 and a friend to many in the community.
“Danny Meyer’s life was senselessly taken from him and will always be remembered to many as the most tragic day in the history of our village,” Leahy said.
After Danny’s death, the Meyer family, close friends and the entire community raised funds and built the Danny Meyer Memorial Playground located at 111 Schipps Lane in Maybrook. The playground opened in 1997. On the twentieth anniversary of Danny’s death, in 2016, the Maybrook Village Board and the mayor announced a declaration that the playscape would be forever known as the Danny Meyer Memorial Playground.
Danny’s sister Kristen Smith suffered greatly from the loss of her brother. She remembered him as a friendly child who loved playing video games, being a member of Maybrook Scout Troop 236 and riding his bicycle with the neighborhood children.
“In his short time here he impacted the lives of many people from friends to teammates to other members of the boy scout band,” Smith said. “His loss will be felt forever.”
Walden Mayor John Ramos vividly remembers when Danny died. He was a state trooper in New Windsor at the time and worked to help the village find Danny’s killer.
“Every hands-on was here helping the village try to find this culprit, this monster, a predator,” Ramos said. “And now he wants to seek freedom. If I was on the parole board he would not get it.”
Anne Barnhart spoke on behalf of Brian Miller, assemblyman for the 101st District. He believes that Peinado should stay in prison.
“The assemblyman categorically opposes parole for the perpetrator of this heinous crime against an innocent child,” she said on his behalf. “He is committed to the idea that violent felons should remain incarcerated and not become eligible for parole, especially in the cases of violent crimes against children.”
Mike Anagnostakis, Orange County Legislator for District 17, read Sen. James Skoufis’ letter to the state parole board, urging them to keep Peinado in prison.
“I implore members of this board to deny Mr. Peinado’s parole,” the letter states. “Danny Meyer’s family and community are counting on you to honor his memory by continuing to hold his murderer to account.”
Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher underscored the importance of Sunday’s candlelit vigil.
“We’re here to remember Danny’s memory and we’re also here with a purpose: to make sure we have as many signatures for our online petition and to make sure we have as many individual people writing individual letters to the New York State Parole Board urging the parole board not to release Danny’s killer,” he said.
The Town of Montgomery is also honoring Danny through a memorial scholarship fund. This will give back to the youth in the community. The link to the petition as well as the fundraiser can be found on the Town of Montgomery Facebook page.