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Friends: Murder victim tried to be best father he could to teen accused of killing him

Posted at 7:06 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 19:10:16-05

The two teenagers accused of murdering Thomas Heath, 58, were back in Buffalo City Court to hear that a felony hearing has been waived because the matter is going to a Grand Jury proceeding.

Alexandria Heath, 17, and her 19-year-old boyfriend, Romaine Jirdon, are charged with 2nd Degree murder for beating and stabbing Thomas Heath to death in his West Ferry home on Friday November 17th.

News of the killing has been devastating for members of the Seven Seas Sailing Center in Buffalo.  Thomas Heath was a 25-year member and current instructor for the club.

Because of the "ugliness of the crime," several Seven Seas' members talked with 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly to defend Thomas Heath's reputation.  The members said Thomas Heath was a kind, gentle man who shared with all those who needed help - especially his step-granddaughter Alexandria, who Heath raised, but is now accused of killing him.

"He had a heart as big as the sun," said Seven Seas' owner Captain Bill Zimmermann.

"Devastating, just devastaing.  He did not deserve this," added Karen Wacker.

"I want the world to know that he was not just a good man, he was a great man," explained Captain Joseph Neuner.

The friends say Thomas Heath was not one to talk about his problems, but some suspected that he was having a hard time controlling his teen step-granddaughter.  Joseph Neuner said he did confide in him that there were problems with Alexandria, who was called "Allie," often disappearing without notifying her step-grandfather as to her whereabouts.

Peter Calabrese-Smith, a fellow sailor, landlord and friend, said Alexandria and her boyfriend Romaine Jirdon were suspected of stealing from Thomas Heath, breaking into another apartment, and causing problems for tenants.

Calabrese-Smith said upstairs tenants moved out the day before the murder because of the girt, and a few hours before the murder, it was discovered that one of the other apartments in the West Ferry house had been broken into.

Ed Reilly has more in his reports