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Family and friends bid farewell to Avon man who vanished more than two years ago

Family members left St. Michael’s Church after a funeral mass for James Robertson Saturday.
Family members left St. Michael’s Church after a funeral mass for James Robertson Saturday.(George Rizer for The Boston Globe)

AVON — James “Jamie” Robertson had vanished 2½ years ago, but Saturday it was time to say farewell.

On New Year’s Day in 2014, Robertson, 37, was driven away from his parents’ home in Avon by two men dressed as constables, who said he needed to take a surprise drug test for his probation.

The father of two never returned and was presumed dead. A hunter found his remains in the woods last December in Upton, about an hour drive from where Robertson’s family last saw him alive. Three men have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with his death.

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Robertson’s brother, Mark, said it was important to give him a proper funeral and burial.

“It meant everything,” he said in an interview at St. Michael Cemetery, where Robertson was buried. “It meant [having] my brother next to me instead of the unknown and being able to talk to him and being able to tell his kids what I think he would want to tell them.”

Earlier Saturday, Robertson was remembered during a memorial Mass at St. Michael Church, where many mourners wore blue ribbons that read, “Justice for Jamie” and “#robertsonstrong.”

The Rev. John Kelly said feelings of closure do not occur “at the snap of a finger.”

“I like to use the word healing because I believe our Scripture tells us that healing is a lifelong process,” Kelly said. “When some of you guys get to be as old as me, you’re going to realize you need healing from many ailments and that it takes time.”

Though Robertson’s remains were found last year, Mark Robertson said the funeral was postponed until police could return to the woods in Upton during warmer weather to look for more traces of his brother.

Officers finished searching about three or four weeks ago, he said. Afterward, Robertson’s father and three brothers went to the spot where his skull was found and erected a wooden cross bearing the initials “JR” and the acronym, “RIP.”

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The men charged with murdering Robertson are James M. Feeney, a suspected drug dealer from Dedham, and two men who allegedly owed Feeney money for drugs: Scott Morrison of Norfolk and Alfred Ricci III of Canton. They have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail.

A statement from the Norfolk district attorney’s office announcing the murder indictments last month did not disclose how Robertson died.

Ricci, an accountant, told investigators Feeney was angry because his ex-girlfriend had started a romantic relationship with Robertson, according to an affidavit written by a State Police investigator. Feeney also suspected Robertson of informing to police on him, the affidavit said.

Prosecutors allege Ricci and Morrison were following orders from Feeney when they dressed as constables and went to Robertson’s home to abduct him.

Former Dedham police officer Michael Schoener is accused of providing Feeney with the badge, paperwork, holster, and handcuffs that Morrison and Ricci allegedly incorporated into their disguises.

Schoener has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory before the fact and is free on $5,000 bail, court records show.

During the Mass, Mark Robertson, 37, delivered his brother’s eulogy. As he described Robertson’s dependability, the whistle made famous by the movie “Kill Bill” filled the sanctuary.

The whistling came from a cellphone belonging to Robertson’s mother, Ginny, who installed the ringtone because her son had it on his phone when he disappeared.

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“I’ll let you finish, Mum,” said Mark Robertson, drawing laughter.

At one point, he spoke directly to Robertson’s children, 13-year-old Connor and 5-year-old Kathryn, and told them they were his brother’s “most cherished accomplishment.”

“His love was unconditional and you could always count on him. Those are a couple of pretty amazing qualities,” he said. “I think I speak for everyone here when I say the way Jamie loved you is going to be something I’ll truly miss.”

Robertson’s family chose to bury him alongside his niece, Emma, who died of sudden infant death syndrome in 2007.

He was cremated and his ashes placed in an urn made of green marble.

After a graveside service, Robertson’s loved ones approached the urn one by one, kissed a hand, and touched the cover.


Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.