By Katherine Minkiewicz
A former Rohnert Park Warriors football player who was allegedly stabbed and killed by an 18-year-old Sebastopol resident in the early afternoon of April 21, is now being remembered and hailed as a passionate and hardworking football player and a dedicated and selfless teammate who always stood up for others.
Cory Vaughn, 19, was attending a house party with friends near Bodega Avenue and Pleasant Hill Road in Sebastopol when the suspect, Anthony Ibach, parked at a nearby parking lot at the Gravenstein Grill wanting to talk with Vaughn.
Allegedly the two men had a history of unresolved issues that they were trying to work out according to Sonoma County Sheriff investigators and varied witness accounts.
According to a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Nixle report, “Vaughn’s friends told Vaughn that Ibach was in the parking lot next door wanting to talk with him,” however, a fight broke out and Ibach pulled out a knife or some sort of cutting instrument and hit the 19-year-old several times slashing his chest.
While Ibach fled the parking lot in his Burgundy 2001 BMW, Vaughn’s friends administered first aid, however, Vaughn eventually succumbed to his injuries and died at the scene.
John Mefferd, Vaughn’s former Rohnert Park Warriors youth football coach, said when he heard about what happened he thought Vaughn’s mentality of sticking up for the little guy must have been true to the very end.
“I got the call. And when I heard what happened to Cory I thought, ‘he was always sticking up for those who needed help and wouldn’t back down in a situation...’ He worked really hard to (always) do the right thing” Mefferd said.
And that commitment of selflessness and dedication is what made Cory one of the most loveable players on the team.
“He was a funny kid and all the kids liked to be around him,” Mefferd mused. “He was one of those guys that everyone liked and if things weren’t right, he took charge and fixed it.”
In addition to being a beloved teammate, he was also a dynamic and tireless ball player who put 110 percent of effort into the sport and in improving his own skills. Vaughn played for three years as a fullback and linebacker and intended to continue his football career in high school.
“He was fantastic,” Mefferd said when asked how passionate Vaughn’s love for the sport was. “He was a really hard worker. He always tried to get better. He was a little guy, so he had to work twice as hard but he always had a smile on his face.”
Mefferd recalled a moment of perseverance and ambition that Vaughn brought with him to the field. Vaughn had been banged up by a larger player and had to be taken out of the game much to his chagrin. “He didn’t want to come out of that game. He didn’t want to give up,” Mefferd said.
Vaughn ended up played football at Analy High School, but could only play for a few years due to injuries. Despite his shorter than desired football career, the life lessons and creed taught by the Warrior’s youth program stuck with Vaughn. The key pillars that make up the heart of Warrior football includes academic success, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, discipline, teamwork, spirit and commitment
“It was a real family around him. We were all Warriors and he had the heart of a Warrior and we are sorry that he is gone,” Mefferd said.
Ibach was detained by San Rafael Police on the 500 block of Francisco Boulevard and was booked into Sonoma County Jail on one count of murder and is being held without bail.
Two more arrests related to the homicide were also recently made by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. Joshua Cassidy and Shyzaha Thorpe of Santa Rosa were charged with accessory to murder. Police believe they assisted Ibach in his escape and later drove his BMW from San Rafael back to Santa Rosa where they parked it and left it in the neighborhood of Yuba Drive.
Detectives are asking if anyone has more information regarding the crime to please contact the investigations bureau at (707) 565-2185.