Marie’s Grocery, long a site for joy, became one of sadness following the owner’s shooting death, for which authorities arrested Maurice Green (below) on Dec. 28.
Photo by Tina Garceau
When news broke on Christmas Eve that someone had gunned down Marie Buck in her eponymous grocery store, 1229 S. Sixth St., Facebook statuses and Twitter posts expressed excruciating dismay over the 81-year-old’s passing, with many people pronouncing the matter “senseless.” Thanks to tireless work from the Philadelphia Police Department, those incensed individuals, many of whom counted themselves as longtime customers of the Passyunk Square establishment, and Mrs. Buck’s loved ones have begun to gain some sense of solace, as authorities on Dec. 29 announced the arrest of Maurice Green for his alleged orchestration of the killing.
“It’s one of the more horrific murders I’ve dealt with,” Homicide Capt. James Clark said during the press conference at Police Headquarters, through which he and his peers revealed the 31-year-old’s capture the previous night in Overbrook.
Clark added that Green might have been the culprit based on the detained suspect’s belief that the decedent’s grandson, whose name the department has not released, could have played a part in pilfering a chain with an estimated worth between $5,000 and $10,000. Video footage captured a man dressed in black conducting the crime, with 11 bullets striking the torso of Mrs. Buck, whom Clark stated was not the intended target. Green had bail denied and awaits a Jan. 18 preliminary hearing for the charges of murder, firearms violations, possession of an instrument of crime, and recklessly endangering another person. Just as it had when the public learned of the beloved figure’s demise, social media became a source of stirring tributes to Mrs. Buck on the same day that hundreds paid their respect at her viewing.
“Marie knew my family for years,” Felicia Punzo said, adding that Mrs. Buck and her grandmother sang in the choir at St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Church, where mourners gathered Friday. “She had known me since I was a baby. … When I was younger, I would go over her house every Halloween for a huge party, and that’s something I’ll always remember.”
Punzo’s recollections of celebrations dovetail with accounts of Mrs. Buck’s annual Christmas Eve portrayal of Santa Claus. That her death, pronounced at 9:12 a.m. at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, occurred that day possesses eerie irony not lost on Anthony Torcasio.
“Growing up, I was really shy with people and sometimes I still am, but she always made me talk and giggle,” he said. “I feel bad because I haven’t been in there for a long time. My friend was going to go pick up his olives and some other food from her for Christmas.”
The Queen Village resident, who also recalled the joy of purchasing meatball sandwiches from Mrs. Buck because of their “home-cooked love,” stated the day of Green’s arrest that he had been thinking about how unique she was in helming a store for more than four decades and about how revered she had become. Her violent end, then, struck him as “mind-blowing.”
“I’m praying for the family,” Punzo said of the grieving community members, who have many extended relatives owing to Mrs. Buck’s “Aunt Marie” nickname among neighbors. “My heart breaks for them. I can never imagine going through something like this.”
Clark, who tabbed anonymous tips as being as crucial to the situation as surveillance footage, echoes the sentiments of many by saying Mrs. Buck was “an 81-year-old grandmother, defenseless, beloved by the community.”
“She was that and so much more,” Lydia Echeverria, formerly of Bella Vista and now of Glenolden, said. “I hope there is swift and severe resolution because this is a monumentally devastating loss.” SPR
Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at email@example.com. Comment at southphillyreview.com/news/features.
Community members have paid their respects to Marie Buck by placing items on her storefront.
Photo by Photo by Tina Garceau