Fiona Lawrence, Valedictorian who is headed to Brown in the fall to pursue a degree Microbiology was a classmate of Jordan O'Duffy. When the story of his arrest was released to the public, she reached out to The Tribune because, as she said, "I felt it was my duty to tell the community what I knew about him."
"He was a quiet kid," said Lawrence. "He was always in class with me while we were dissecting fetal pigs, and he seemed nice for the most part. The only thing I ever thought that was odd about him was how much time he spent looking at my fingernails. And, to be honest, most guys that people would call "normal" don't spend much time looking at my fingers."
Lawrence agreed to answer a few specific questions that we thought the public would be interested in having the answers to. Here is that exchange:
Do you think Jordan O'Duffy is a terrorist?
"I think Jordan was pushed around a lot and that people in Riverside blame him for things that he never had anything to do with. We all know about his grandma and what she did before he was born. Maybe other people can't let it go because it affected them more directly, but I don't blame him for that, and I don't blame him for what happened with Zeva either. If she is a terrorist and she was building bombs, I don't think he had anything to do with that."
Do you think that it's possible Zeva Pacariz was taking advantage of Jordan?
"Yes. I think that's possible. I mean, that's almost always the story, right? The kids are vulnerable to suggestion because they're lonely and angry. He was lonely. I don't know that he was angry, though. There were rumors of some horrible stuff that happened to him in the locker room, and I saw some guys picking on Jordan from time to time. I can't say that he wanted revenge or anything. He was just a kid who didn't fit in and, I think, once he gets out of here that he might find someplace where he can live the life he wants to live without paying for the sins of his grandma."
What happened to Jordan in the locker room?
"I don't know that the rumors are true. So I don't want to start something that will be reported in the paper and maybe cause problems for people who shouldn't get dragged into it."
Did you ever meet Zeva when she worked at the school?
"I only saw her pushing trash cans around and doing regular Janitorial work. So I don't have much to say about her."
Was Jordan ever angry?
"I said before that he didn't seem especially angry. And I meant it. I think that Jordan was just a kid in high school like the rest of us. The main difference that I saw was that he didn't talk to anyone much, and when he did talk people were not often kind to him. Kids were pointing and laughing at him. I don't know if I could have done anything differently to make things easier on him, but I do know that I have goals and aspirations. Most people do. And it makes sense to me that Jordan does too. He always had a notebook with him. I never saw what was inside it. But I didn't ever see what was inside. I heard from someone one time that he was drawing and writing poems. That was interesting to me, but we never talked about it in class. And the only time we ever talked was in class. So, you know, I just don't know enough about who he is or who he wants to be to really say something definitive about what he wanted to do with his life. I don't know. I think he's a good kid who didn't have much help. Maybe that's unfair. I don't know what his home life was like. He was never at mass. Maybe if he had gone to church more, none of this wold've happened. Maybe we could've helped him and his mom. I'm not sure why they stopped coming."
Lawrence will attend Brown in the fall on a full scholarship.
Article by Davis McKiernan