Candlelight vigil to be held on anniversary of Patricia Torbicki's death

Published on Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:21
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEWINGTON - It’s been nearly a year since she was killed by her husband, and the family of Patricia Torbicki is still living with immense sadness.

They expect to join at least 100 relatives and friends at a candlelight vigil next Friday, Sept. 21, on the one-year anniversary of her death. The gathering begins at 6 p.m. in Mill Pond Park.

Patricia, known fondly by her family as “Patti,” was just 46 when her husband, Michael Torbicki, shot her twice inside their Newington home, ending her life. The former Marine also attempted to take his own life, but survived. He was charged with murder and committed suicide in prison last December.

The couple’s son, Donovan, is a sophomore at Newington High School. About to turn 15, he is living with his grandparents, Patricia and Michael Procaccini, and his aunt Maxine Procaccini.

“I went from being a single person to a parent of a teenager,” Maxine said this week. “I’m looking forward to the vigil but I’d rather have my baby sister here. I miss her being just a phone call away.”

Patti’s twin, Michelle Douglass, and her family will be traveling from their home in Maine to take part in the ceremony. In an email, Douglass said it’s painful for her to talk about her sister. The two were inseparable.

“I cry every day still,” she wrote. “It’s hard to go from talking to someone three times a day to not at all.  I miss her so much it hurts. Time does not heal all wounds … a part of me died that day, too.”

Patti was a member of the former Mill Pond Church, which merged with Cedar Mountain Church to become LifeWay Church last October. Pastor Joel Rissinger will be leading people in prayer Friday.

“She was one of our original members,” Rissinger said. “She taught in our children’s ministry, sang on our praise team … it’s definitely been a tough year.”

The pastor acknowledged that there are several phases of grief Patti’s loved ones have gone through.

“Shock, denial, then there’s this intense sadness and anger.”

Rissinger hopes to comfort those who are hurting when he speaks about his former church member and friend.

“From Patti’s perspective, our faith would tell us she’s fine and she’s filled with joy,” he said. “It’s the rest of us who struggle. Part of the healing process is to realize she is at peace, despite the loss we’re going through.”

Over 300 people attended a vigil last fall.

“The outpouring of love from people in Newington and everywhere - people I didn’t even know - it was amazing,” her mother, Patricia, remembered.

The family is asking those who attend the upcoming vigil to bring a purple balloon and a candle, if they wish. Purple was Patti’s favorite color.

“My goal is just to remember her and celebrate her life,” her mother added. “She was a wonderful daughter, a wonderful mother and a true friend to everybody. Everyone who knew her loved her.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:21. Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:23.