Former Pocatello High School students buy classmate new headstone 56 years after her murder
In 1962, the city of Pocatello was shocked by the murder of 16-year-old Vicki Jo Quinn. Quinn, a student at Pocatello High School, was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery and her grave was marked with a homemade wooden cross and a small metal plaque bearing only her name, the year of her birth and the year of her death.
Fifty-six years later, Bob Myers, who also attended Pocatello High School and knew Quinn, though he was not her age, was speaking with another classmate who decorated graves, including Quinn’s. Myers visited the grave and said he was saddened to see trees growing out of it and the cross slowly crumbling from time.
“It had been 50 some years, and this wooden cross was deteriorating and falling apart,” he said. “And I thought she deserved better than that.”
Myers said he has breakfast every week with his friend, Pete Black, who was in Quinn’s class at Pocatello High School. He told Black about his idea to purchase a new gravestone, and Black reached out to other members of his class to gather donations.
Originally, Myers said he and Black planned on a small, flat gray headstone, but the response from their classmates and the community was overwhelming.
“I could not believe the notes we got,” Black said. “All kinds of things and memories came flooding back. The whole thing was really quite touching.”
Black tracked down one of Quinn’s three surviving sisters to consult her.
“They were just absolutely thrilled that somebody cared, and they gave us permission to do so,” Black said.
Quinn’s younger sister, Ame Cochnauer, who was just 8 at the time of Quinn’s death, said she heard through other family members about Myers and Black’s efforts and was left speechless.
“I immediately teared up,” Cochnauer said. “I was just so taken aback to think that people still remembered and cared. I was at a loss for words, honestly.”
Cochnauer said she wished her parents could have seen Quinn’s new headstone, but they both passed away many years ago.
With the generous donations from community members and classmates, Myers said they were able to afford a large, pink headstone with a rendering of the original cross engraved on it, as well as the names of Quinn’s parents and siblings engraved on the back. The original plaque was also mounted at the concrete base of the new headstone.
Black said he stayed in touch with Quinn’s family throughout the process of designing the headstone.
“They were more than grateful that we were doing this to honor our little classmate who never had a chance,” he said. “And I think it’s really neat that she at least has a memorial now that’s out there for her.”
There was even some money left over after purchasing the headstone, which Myers said was deposited into an endowment account in Quinn’s name at the Pocatello High School Foundation, which will be used to fund projects for the school.
“What started out as a small conversation really blossomed,” Myers said.
Though Cochnauer was very young at the time of her sister’s death, she said this has made her realize what a large influence it had on the community.
“Sadly, nowadays, it is too commonplace,” she said. “But back then, it wasn’t. The entire community was pretty shocked. This tells me, though, that she had a tremendous impact on a lot more than just my family.”