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Loved Ones Focus On Henry Tapia's Life, Not The Alleged Racist Act That Killed Him04:01
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Friends and family place flowers on top of Henry Tapia's casket at Forest Hills Cemetery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Friends and family place flowers on top of Henry Tapia's casket at Forest Hills Cemetery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Henry Tapia Jr. was remembered as being a good friend and a bad dancer; for playing video games well; and for singing a little out of tune.

Many knew him as Henry. His friends called him Henny. To his family, he was Henrito. He was proud of being Dominican. The 34-year-old was a dad to three kids, a boyfriend, a brother and son.

Three-year-old Eli kneels in front of his father’s casket. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Three-year-old Eli kneels in front of his father’s casket. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Tina Tapia, Henry Tapia’s sister, grieves as she places her head on his casket. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Tina Tapia, Henry Tapia’s sister, grieves as she places her head on his casket. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

His loved ones say he lit up rooms he never entered quietly. They remember him as a protector of anyone who needed one. And his mom, Miosotis Morel, said she knows he's now an angel watching over his family.

"This is not a goodbye," she said, with people gathered around his casket in the Forest Hills Cemetery. "This is, 'I will see you later.' "

Henry Tapia’s mother Miosotis Morel places her hand onto her son’s casket at Forest Hills Cemetery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia’s mother Miosotis Morel places her hand onto her son’s casket at Forest Hills Cemetery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

It snowed Thursday morning. Before going to the cemetery, mourners gathered at a nearby Jamaica Plain funeral home. Tapia's pastor Steve Cole made note of the weather and tied it to the Book of John.

"Jesus wept. God weeps," he said. "Don't be deceived. He's weeping today."

Cole, the pastor of Calvary Chapel In The City, gave a sermon about justice and about forgiveness. But Tapia's cousin Raul Felipe said he's not at that point yet. Tapia taught him how to ride a bike and how to be confident. And Felipe is still angry at the man who killed his cousin.

"It's going to take a long time to forgive and I don't know how long that would take," he said. "I'm so mad, because they took him away from us in a senseless act of violence. It didn't have to happen that way."

Henry Tapia's girlfriend Courtney Morton holds their 3-year-old son Eli during his funeral service. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia's girlfriend Courtney Morton holds their 3-year-old son Eli during his funeral service. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The way Tapia died wasn't talked about much at the funeral. Pastor Steve Cole said it was the most horrific thing he's ever read: last week, Tapia and a white man named Dean Kapsalis got into a verbal road rage altercation in Belmont. According to law enforcement and witnesses, when Tapia walked back to his car, Kapsalis called him the N-word, got in his truck and ran him over. Kapsalis turned himself in to police about a half an hour later. He faces several charges, including murder.

At Forest Hills Cemetery, Henry Tapia Sr. said he wishes he could've saved Henrito.

"I got guilt in my heart, because I wasn't there the day that happened," he said. "If I was there, I would have said, 'Hey, let's continue. Let's continue.' Like I always do."

Henry Tapia Sr. pours Hennessy whiskey, his son's favorite drink onto his casket. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia Sr. pours Hennessy whiskey, his son's favorite drink onto his casket. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This was Henry Tapia Sr.'s first funeral. His dad is 100, his mom is 97. And he thought he'd have more time with his son.

"I think he's going to pop out [of hiding] — one of his jokes. One of his pranks," he said.

A videogame controller was placed on the casket. Danny Garcia said he and Tapia became friends over their shared love of the game "Tekken."

"That game was therapeutic for him," Garcia said. "We were at a tournament, Henny came by and he was just so intrigued and had so much energy and I was like, 'Who's this big dude?' He was so amped. He was like, 'Wow I didn't know other people played this game. I wanna get better.' "

Garcia was a pallbearer yesterday, along with several relatives. They held the casket kind of low because Tapia's 3-year-old son Eli wanted to help.

Henry Tapia’s 3-year-old son, Eli, helps pallbearers carry his father's casket to the burial site in Forest Hills Cemetery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia’s 3-year-old son, Eli, helps pallbearers carry his father's casket to the burial site in Forest Hills Cemetery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

As mourners threw flowers onto the casket, Eli said goodbye to his dad.

"Love you, daddy," he said.

"He loves you, too," he was assured.

"I know," he said.

Henry Tapia’s 15-year-old daughter, Sophia, stands among family and friends during her father's burial. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia’s 15-year-old daughter, Sophia, stands among family and friends during her father's burial. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia's family leaves flowers in his grave. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Henry Tapia's family leaves flowers in his grave. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Danny Garcia; the post is updated. We regret the error.

This segment aired on January 29, 2021.

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Quincy Walters Twitter Reporter
Quincy Walters is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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