Local News

Peaceful garden dedicated to murdered Apex teen

Posted March 19, 2011 3:10 p.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2011 11:35 p.m. EDT

— A peaceful meditation garden, surrounded by trees and a lake, stands as a memorial to an Apex teen whose life ended in a shocking and gruesome crime more than two years ago.

Classmates and friends dedicated "Matt's Nook" at the 4-H Camp Millstone in Ellerbe Saturday in honor of Matt Silliman, an 18-year-old 4-H counselor murdered on Nov. 30, 2008.

"Matt used to like to play around the lake and do a lot of activities out here. This is just a beautiful spot for it," his mother, Betty, said.

Four Wake County teens were convicted of plotting to kill Silliman over his friendship with one of the defendants' girlfriend. His body was found bound, gagged and duct-tapped in an abandoned trailer.

Over the ensuing months, Silliman was remembered as an Eagle Scout who was actively involved with his church. Friends recalled him as compassionate and enthusiastic.

"A lot of people's lives were impacted by Matt's life and by Matt's death," his father, Ben, said.

Dozens of friends and classmates volunteered Saturday to plant trees and design the meditation garden at Camp Millstone.

Among those helping was Chris Sowders, who once joined the Boy Scouts with Silliman.

"It's a sense of fulfillment," Sowders said.

The 4-H camp also launched the Matthew Silliman Counselor-in-Training Scholarship to support leadership training.

Betty Silliman was last at Camp Millstone when she dropped her son off there in the summer of 2008. Although it's more than 80 miles from her home, she plans on being a frequent visitor to "Matt's Nook."

"It gives me a good feeling out here," Betty Silliman said.