PROVIDENCE — More than a decade after a young father from Attleboro, Mass., was stabbed by a stranger and left to die in downtown Providence, the police have tracked down a man suspected of murder.
Jason Lopes, 33, formerly of North Attleborough, Mass., was arrested in Texas this week after a statewide grand jury issued an indictment charging him with murder.
Lopes is accused of killing Zackary J. Marshall, then 22, in a fight as the bars closed one cold night in December 2010.
Marshall and a friend were walking back to their car on Peck Street, when three men walking with a woman nearby started a fight with them. Marshall was stabbed in the chest and later died at Rhode Island Hospital.
Marshall left an infant daughter and a close-knit family. He’d been studying criminal justice at Johnson & Wales University, according to his obituary, and loved working at his uncle’s auto body shop and riding his motorcycle.
Over the years, Marshall’s family tried to honor his memory and support the daughter who was growing up without him. They held fund-raisers, named their new SpeeDee garage ZJM Auto Services, using his initials, and launched a Facebook page to keep his memory alive.
Although Marshall’s family and the police pleaded for tips, the killer’s trail went cold. “We were right on the edge of it, but never could find the right witness to help us,” said Providence Police Major David Lapatin.
“And then, everything fell into place,” he added.
Lapatin declined to say what police learned that led them to reopen the case a few months ago and focus on Lopes. But, as the cold-case unit led by Detective Angelo A’Vanat started digging, Lopes suddenly moved to Texas, Lapatin said.
The Providence police kept track of Lopes and alerted authorities in Texas, who arrested him on a warrant. Lopes is currently being held in Dallas County jail awaiting extradition to Rhode Island.
“These cold cases are so much work, so much time, and it’s a really good feeling for us, and I’m sure for the family, when an arrest is made,” Lapatin said.
Marshall’s family declined to comment Friday.
The attorney general’s office announced the indictment on Friday.
“The indictment in this case is a major step forward in our efforts to obtain justice for Mr. Marshall and his family,” Attorney General Peter F. Neronha said in a statement. “Ten years is a long time, and I recognize how difficult it has been for the family of Mr. Marshall to wait for this day to come. There is a distance on road to justice still to travel, but I am pleased that we have reached this point.”
This is the second cold case that the Providence detectives have solved within the last four weeks. Last month, a Boston man already serving life for two murders in Providence was indicted in a third homicide from 2011.
Chief Hugh T. Clements said, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this case and Providence Police Detectives will continue to investigate these cases from every possible angle to bring other offenders to justice.”