PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It was a Christmas that Richard Holcomb will never forget.
In 2003, the body of his friend, 19-year-old Roy Weber, was found discarded among a pile of rocks off Allens Avenue.
“I saw a news broadcast that someone in Providence had been killed,” Holcomb said. “I saw his face come up on the screen and I got goosebumps.”
Weber’s death, according to Holcomb, “spread tremors through the whole community.”
Holcomb said he and Weber both had troubled pasts, ultimately turning to sex work to support their drug addictions.
“As much as the addiction had taken a hold on his life, I saw this sort of sadness in his eyes,” Holcomb recalled. “He didn’t want to be out there doing what he was doing, but at the time, he didn’t know how to get out of that lifestyle.”
Several years after Roy’s death, Holcomb founded “Project Weber,” which at the time was the first program in the country designed specifically to help male sex workers.
Now called Project Weber/RENEW, their Broad Street drop-in center serves as a safe haven for the next generation of men looking to break the cycle.
“We’ve been able to turn the curse into a blessing, so to speak,” Holcomb added. “So, even though this is a terrible thing that’s happened to Roy, we’ve been able to use it to give back to the community.”
The goal, Holcomb said, is to save the lives of people who may find themselves in the same predicament as Weber.
To this day, Weber’s killer has yet to be brought to justice.
Providence Police Major David Lapatin said detectives conducted numerous interviews and scoured the city for clues, but no arrests have been made.
“We know what his lifestyle was, but no one deserves to die like that,” Lapatin said.
The case is far from cold, Lapatin said, adding that investigators are looking at a person of interest.
“The person who did this shouldn’t rest too easy, because we’re still on it,” he added.
Anyone who believes they know what happened to Roy Weber is urged to contact the Providence Police Department at (401) 272-3121.