Adan Fabian Perez (Source: Kentucky Horse Racing Commission)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A special memorial service was held Monday evening in the chapel on the backside of Churchill Downs.
Nearly 200 people turned out for the service that honored 48-year-old Adan Fabian Perez.
Perez, a track worker, was found dead early Sunday morning inside Barn #8.
"Although it's extremely competitive on the race tack, it's extremely tight off the race track. So the Churchill community has come together as we always do when someone is in time of crisis or need; everyone forgets about anything that has happened before and focuses on how can we help one another," said Kentucky Race Track Chaplain Ken Boehm.
The service inside the chapel at Churchill Downs takes place every Monday night, however this one had a special message.
"We pray for comfort for his family and for all of his friends and co-workers who are part of his greater family here at Churchill Downs," Boehm said, followed by a translation in Spanish.
Nearly 600 people live in the barn area of Churchill Downs. Adan Perez was one of them.
He came to American and to Kentucky five years ago from Guatemala in search of a better life. He worked as a horse trainer for the Borel family, who hugged Perez's son Wilson during Monday night's memorial.
"The wealthiest of the wealthy and the poorest of the poor stood shoulder to shoulder and cried on each other's shoulder and said we care about you and that's the wonderful gift that comes out of such a tragedy," Boehm said.
The tears, the hugs, and the joining of hands shows the healing from this weekend's tragedy.
Wilson Perez found his father's body inside barn #8.
The coroner and police won't say how he died, but are calling it a homicide.
In addition to having to cope with the loss of his father, Wilson Perez must plan and pay for a funeral back home.
"The expenses are great. We have a Guatemalan consulate and an American government to deal with and we have a funeral in Guatemalan that we have to arrange," Boehm said.
That can cost upwards of $15,000, and as the outpouring of support continues for Wilson, he's also keeping an eye out for the one responsible for this father's death.
"I asked Wilson if he would like to have something here other than tonight and his main concern was that he didn't want the person who did that to his father to be able to come participate in it so he would like to have the funeral back home for his family," Boehm said.
In a statement to WAVE 3 News, the Borel family said:
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. Perez. He was a kind, hard working man who took pride in his job, loved the horses he cared for and had no enemies that we are aware of. We hope that a full investigation will lead police to whomever committed this terrible crime, and that the individual or individuals responsible for this brutal act of violence will be brought to justice. In the mean time, we ask for your respect and privacy while we mourn the loss of a close member of our racing stable. We also ask that you keep Mr. Perez's son in your thoughts and prayers."
Several professional racing organizations, including Churchill Downs, are helping with funeral expenses. While a fund hasn't been set up, the Churchill Chapel is accepting donations for Perez.
Police are investigating Perez's death as a homicide. If you have any information, you are asked to call 574-LMPD.
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