Quinn's husband hopes to turn his grief into a force for good

Published: Friday, Feb. 16 2007 1:09 p.m. MST

Richard Quinn cries over the loss of his wife, Vanessa, at his home in Salt Lake County Wednesday. They were at the mall to buy her a wedding ring when she was shot.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

SANDY — On the day that she died, Vanessa Quinn gave her husband Rich a long kiss goodbye.

"The one thing is, when you get up in the morning and you leave your loved one, for some reason, she gave me a really passionate kiss that morning," Rich Quinn said. "I don't know why, but I'm glad she did."

Quinn reflected Wednesday on his wife's horrific death Monday evening. He was meeting her to finally buy her a wedding band that night, when the shooting rampage began.

"We got married four years ago. We didn't have money. We never wore wedding rings. I was meeting her there to buy a wedding ring," he said, sobbing. "I called and told her to come. ... "

Salt Lake City police believe Vanessa Quinn, 29, was gunned down by 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic as she walked by the Williams-Sonoma store inside the mall.

"I saw a guy stop. He turned, there was a girl standing in front of our store, and he shot her," Marie Smith, a clerk at Bath and Body Works said Monday night.

When the shooting started, Rich Quinn was hurried out of the mall and couldn't find his wife in the panicked crowds.

"I couldn't get ahold of her. I was calling, I was texting, but if you know Vanessa, the chances of her cell phone having a charge in it were pretty remote," he said, chuckling slightly. "I honestly didn't think anything was wrong."

He returned to their home, but when time passed with no word, he and his friends went back to Trolley Square.

"I asked the police for information. They didn't give me any," he said.

His brother had seen photographs of a body inside the Trolley Square mall on the Internet. Quinn said he walked over to a news photographer, asked to look through his lens and saw his wife.

"I knew instantly it was her, even though you couldn't see her face," he said. "The clothes, the way her shirt was pulled up. I knew it was her."

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he offered his thanks to Ken Hammond, the off-duty Ogden police officer who got into a shootout with Talovic. Surrounded by family and friends, Quinn also offered condolences to the other victims' families.

"We send our condolences to the other families because we know what they're going through," said Rich Quinn's brother, Ed.

Rich met Vanessa in Ohio in 1999. They shared their first kiss on a New Year's Eve. Family members described her as an adventurous woman and a skilled soccer player. In 2001, Rich Quinn said they moved to Utah, and she got a job at at Overstock.com.

Friends said Vanessa loved animals and took in a couple of stray dogs. One, a happy spotted dog named "Stray," and a feisty brown puppy named "Jackson."

"She spoiled animals and children like they were her own," said family friend Deidre Russo.

The dogs also miss Vanessa, said Russo, as she scratched behind Stray's ears.

"He's really been sulking around my house," Russo said. "He's very depressed."

Rich Quinn said he wants to channel his grief into something positive. He has set up a Web site in his wife's memory, vanessaquinn.com, where people can contribute to causes she supported and share their memories of her.

"Vanessa, thank you for a beautiful life and for the everlasting impact for good you have had on us all," her co-worker Scott Stuart wrote in a guest book posted online. "My prayers are with your family in this difficult time."

Many who did not even know her wrote words of comfort to Quinn's family.

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