One year later, Jamie Stickle’s death remains a mystery

One year after the body of popular Sidekicks bartender Jamie Stick;e was found in her burned-out Jeep, circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery.

Stickle’s body was discovered last Feb. 8 by Pittsburgh firefighters called to extinguish a car fire. Stickle’s burning Jeep was parked in an outside lot near her North Side apartment building. Since blood was also found at the scene, Pittsburgh Police ruled Stickle’s death suspicious, but no suspects were ever identified. Stickle was 33 at the time of her death.

Fund-raising events honoring Stickle were held at Pegasus, Images, the Liberty Avenue Saloon and other gay-owned businesses on March 22, 2002, which Pittsburgh City Council had declared Jamie Lynn Stickle Day. Money collected for the United Jamie fund was designated as a reward for information in the case.

But according to police, little information has been uncovered in the year since Stickle’s death.

Detective Joseph Meyers, who is currently as­ signed to Stickle’s case, said police had pursued two leads, but neither proved fruitful. Although there have been no new leads in the past few months, Meyers said, the case is “absolutely” still considered open.

“I just spoke with her mother, and assured her this isn’t going to fall by the wayside,” Meyers told Out. “We’ll continue to investigate it as thoroughly as we can.”

However, after a year of waiting, some of Stickle’s friends have said they may take matters into their own hands. Velma Goughler said she has begun raising money to hire a private detective to investigate Stickle’s death and estimated that about $700 has been raised so far through fund-raising efforts at the Liberty Avenue Saloon.

“We need answers, bot nobody can get any answers. If we can’t break the case, we need to get someone who can break the case,” Goughler said.

Jim Fischerkeller, chair of the board of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh, said if a fund for hiring a private investigator is officially established, the GLCC will provide information on its Web site about how people can contribute to the fund.

Fischerkeller noted the impact Stickle has on the community. “I did not know Jamie personally, but from everything I have heard about her and seen on television, it is obvious that she was a much-loved person in our community. I feel very sad for her friends and family, as it must hurt them very much to see this case still unresolved a year later,” he said.

Lambda Foundation board member Buzz Pusateri said the foundation will keep the money raised through the United for Jamie fund unless a decision is made by the family and the holders of the fund to distribute it in some other way. “We’ll keep the money as long as they want us to,” Pusateri said. “We have it in a money market account, accruing interest.”

Fischerkeller added: “I think out community has been great in responding to the request for donations for a reward fund for information leading to an arrest. I only hope that these funds are used soon, as a result of the case being solved.”

Chuck Honse, co-owner of Images and one of the founders of the United for Jamie fund, said no decision has been made about what to do with the more than $20,000 raised through last year’s campaign. “The money we’re holding from last year is still designated as reward money,” Honse said. “Any money we raise this year will go to her charities or to [hire] an investigator.”

Police, friends still baffled by year-old Stickle death

According to Honse, a new fund will be estab­lished to support charities for breast cancer and AIDS, causes that he said Stickle was passionate about. “Certainly our plan was to start the fundraising effort for her charities this year,” Honse said. “We’ll set up a specific fund with the Lambda Foundation. ”

Fund-raising efforts for Stickle’s favorite chari­ table causes will be held near Stickle’s birthday, April 1. “We decided last year that fund-raising in her memory for her charities would be done around her birthday,” Honse said. “We’d rather remember her life and the work she’s done over the years.”

Goughler said a benefit show will be presented March 29 at Pegasus, and that other gay-owned businesses are also planning fund-raising events.

A candlelight vigil to remember Stickle was held Feb. 8. Stickle’s family and friends gathered at the Liberty Avenue Saloon to light candles, then part of the group traveled to the North Side site where Stickle’s Jeep was found. Vigil organizer Goughler estimated that about 100 people attended the memo­ rial at the Liberty Avenue Saloon, and 25 to 30 par­ticipants continued the vigil outside Stickle’s former apartment.

Thom Murphy, another of Stickle’s friends, at­tended the memorial ceremony, but said he had to leave when it became too overwhelming for him. “We just miss her so much,” Murphy said. “It was a hor­rible thing to have to go through, and one year later it was still as horrible.”

Murphy said he belives Stickle represented the “benevolent side of our community … She was a tireless fund-raiser and was always trying to help keep our community together.”

“We all loved her,” Goughler said. “She was a great person. We have her in our hearts and minds every day. She’ll always be with us.”