The drama over the Kmart death of James Reeves escalated Friday, as a new company picture revealed that the Foxboro, Massachusetts-based clothing chain had contracted with a man who served as Reeves’ driver, friend and bodyguard.
In the nearly 10 days since news broke that a former Kmart security guard had murdered the then-67-year-old at a store in Norwood, Massachusetts, a whirlwind of confusion, professional and personal, has been swirling around the store’s more than 100,000 employees.
It has taken more than a week for Kmart to hold a formal memorial service in Reeves’ honor. A previously scheduled, attendance-only event was rescheduled on Friday to allow people to pay their respects to the man who was a longtime friend to many workers.
Kmart employees on Friday recounted messages they’ve received from their fellow workers throughout the weeks-long ordeal.
“Oi, I get why u guys need to think about it, but you don’t need to go crazy over this,” said one worker in a message obtained by CNN. “U guys know what you have to do. You already do.”
Reeves was a beloved employee at Kmart.
A former Kmart employee told CNN affiliate WBZ that Reeves was looking forward to retiring from Kmart and that the former security guard was dedicated to working at the store.
“My heart breaks for him, he never hurt nobody but was trying to do the right thing for a good man,” the former Kmart employee told WBZ.
“He took me under his wing,” said Neal Morrast, a former Kmart employee, in the WBZ interview. “He took me under his wing and raised me up.”
When He said his last goodbyes to his boss at the Norwood store, Reeves looked on as employees formed a circle around him and shared hugs and heartfelt words.
“He is gone now, but we’re all together. We got to work hard. Stay focused, be family, that’s what I know. His family is all strong with us,” one employee told his friends.
“Every day is frightening,” Morrast said.
Now, Kmart is facing an onslaught of questions about whether it knew about his violent past when he was hired.
Reeves was charged with indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 in 2000. In 2002, he was convicted of an assault on a store manager. He was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon the same year.
After serving time in prison, he was on probation when he started working as a security guard at Kmart in 2010.
Kmart declined to comment on specifics about Reeves’ employment history but said in a statement on Friday that they are cooperating with police investigations.
“Kmart’s current safety and security protocols, which are posted on our website, clearly state that there are no protections in place for employees that have a violent criminal background,” Kmart said in a statement. “We provide background checks to all of our third-party independent agents, and these are thoroughly reviewed when an individual is hired.”
The company has already instituted stricter employee security policy, such as requiring an ID to enter the facility.
“Every Friday and Saturday morning while in our stores, we ask employees to sign a loyalty card and leave it at our register,” the statement said. “The card is immediately distributed to our human resources team who will mail it to their employers.”
Earlier this week, a motorist told the Methuen, Massachusetts police that he made several trips to the Kmart store in the last week. The man told police that he regularly brought men to the store to buy items like clothing and furniture.
CNN has learned that William A. Joyce, the employee that filed the police report last week, has declined to comment.
Norwood Police Chief Scott Fitch declined to comment on police records.
“We are continuing to take a look at this and gather all the information,” he said.
Fitch declined to say whether Joyce reported the incidents to the store manager, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation.