JOHNSTON, R.I. -- The letter arrived this week at Dave Kane's home, a single page of unadorned cursive script tucked inside a small envelope.
He opened the letter and called his wife . Then he struggled through tears to read it to her.
``To Nick O'Neill's family and friends," the letter begins. ``Please allow me to start by apologizing for the part I played in Nick's tragic death and for taking so long to convey this apology to you."
The author is Daniel Biechele, the former rock band tour manager whose pyrotechnics display at The Station nightclub three years ago started a fire that killed Kane's 18-year-old son, Nicholas O'Neill, and 99 others.
Biechele, who tearfully apologized in a packed courtroom last month before being sentenced to four years in prison, wrote personal letters to the families of all 100 people killed by the fire. The letters were written before the sentencing and are now being distributed by the state probation department to the families who want them.
Some who have received the letters say they are satisfied with Biechele's words, which have a remorseful tone and show that he accepts responsibility. In at least some notes, Biechele acknowledges that forgiveness may be impossible and that the pain of losing a child is unthinkable.
``I just believe it was sincere," Kane said yesterday. ``It was just real. It wasn't, `I'll write this letter and the judge will take five years off my sentence."'
But others don't want the letters and think there is nothing Biechele could write that could soothe them.
``I have a lot of issues with Daniel Biechele," said Claire Bruyere, whose 27-year-old daughter, Bonnie Hamelin, died in the fire. ``Unless he can say in the letter that he didn't kill my daughter, then I have no urge to hear what he says."
Biechele was tour manager for the band Great White when he set off pyrotechnics during a concert at the West Warwick club on Feb. 20, 2003. Sparks from the pyrotechnics ignited flammable soundproofing foam around the stage, before flames spread through the club.