Home News Local news On Eve of Funeral, Jovan Joseph Remembered as Humble, Dutiful

On Eve of Funeral, Jovan Joseph Remembered as Humble, Dutiful


Jan. 15, 2007 — His mother called him "friend." His employer said he was like a son, and others who knew Jovan Joseph said that, at 24, he was a humble and exemplary young man.
When Joseph's mother, Debra Davis, was deployed to Iraq in 2004, he assisted his grandmother in caring for his three younger siblings, who were 10, 9 and 10 months old at the time. Joseph himself had just turned 22. His employer, Marcia O'Neale, said Joseph requested time off so he could pick up the two older kids from school. Other than those times, however, he never missed work and was never late to his job as a driver with O'Neale's Transport and V.I. Regulated Waste Management.
"He was a wonderful young man and it was shocking and heartbreaking, instantly, because this young man was such an exceptional person that you couldn't help but immediately feel a loss," said O'Neale, general manager of the company. "I've never heard anyone say anything bad about him. His coworkers are devastated."
Joseph was pronounced dead shortly before 2 a.m. at Luis Hospital after sustaining a stab wound to the neck that punctured an artery. The incident occurred at 12:46 a.m. on Jan. 7 near the children's rides in the Festival Village. At the time of the stabbing, the rides had already closed and witnesses reported seeing Joseph in a verbal confrontation with at least four young Hispanic men shortly before he was stabbed.
According to initial reports to police, Joseph had approached the group because they were harassing his girlfriend, also Hispanic. The couple has a 4-year-old son.
Territorial Police Chief Novelle E. Francis Jr. has decried the senseless killings in the Virgin Islands, which he said are increasingly being committed by minors. Francis has also praised the community response, which he said resulted in a speedy arrest of the suspects in Joseph's case.
Davis said the quick arrests have helped her cope with the loss.
"He was not only my son, but my friend," she said. "I love him dearly, and I cherished the moments that he was my son and thank God for him, and we got to spend time together."
The last memory her younger children has of their older brother is of him doing what he did best — taking care of them, Davis said.
"The night before he was killed, he took them all to Coney Island," she said, adding that her youngest child is now 2 years old.
Joseph lived with Davis, his grandmother and his younger siblings up until his death.
"We've been together all our lives, and it's hard that he's no longer here," she said. "It's hard, but I'm coping because, on the whole, the community is trying to help solve the crime. I thank the community for what they're trying to do to solve this killing."
Police have arrested three young men, one 16 and two 15. One 15-year-old minor has been charged with first-degree murder and is expected to be bound over as an adult. The others have not been charged in connection with the killing but are in police custody on burglary charges. The 16-year-old also faces a contempt of court charge because of curfew violation.
By law, the names of minors cannot be released until they are bound over as adults. A conviction of first-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison. The three young men are currently being held at the Youth Rehabilitation Center on St. Croix.
Almando Cruz said he hopes all of the young men are brought to justice swiftly and dealt with harshly.
"My 4-year-old grandson is calling his job, asking when his father is coming home," Cruz said. "It's upsetting to see him that way, and all of us hope that police get all who were involved and they get the punishment they deserve, like a long jail time."
Cruz's sister, Raquel Concepcion, said that her 20-year-old niece, who was present when the father of her child was killed, is still traumatized.
"She's doing very badly," Concepcion said. "She cries a lot. She's so distraught she can't sleep." Isania Cruz was hit in the face by one of the young men, and this is what propelled the confrontation with Jovan, Concepcion said.
"People had been complaining that they were roaming the area just harassing people all week," she said. "After my niece was hit, she saw Jovan coming towards her and told him that they hit her, and he went to confront them, and that's when they jumped him."
Concepcion said she too is saddened by the end result.
"He's a very quiet, very humble kid, and we'll miss him" she said. "People who know him can vouch for him being quiet. He was a DJ, and we don't know how he did it because he was so humble."
Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday, Davis said. Viewing is at 10 a.m., with the service to follow at 11 a.m. at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Peter's Rest.
The couple's 4-year-old son will not attend, Concepcion said.
"My niece has told him that his father is in heaven and that it will be a long time before he sees his father again," she said.
O'Neale's company has been running newspapers ads with a smiling picture of Joseph, noting that her business will be closed Wednesday for the funeral services of "Jovan Edman Joseph — exceptional employee and beloved friend."
Joseph "went above and beyond the call of duty for us, and he's like a son to us, and we feel we have to do the most for him also," O'Neale said.
"This is a loss for the community," she added. "He was proof that if you apply yourself you can succeed, and if you work hard you can impact the people around you — family, friends and co-workers."
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