Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Every Murder Victim Has A Story: Doodley Linsey Derose, Jahed Ahmad Babi, and Isaac Joyner

During the 2010 holiday season, homicides claimed the lives of several young people in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This article, part of a continuing series on Dissenting Justice, examines three of these cases.

Doodley Linsey Derose

Doodley Linsey Derose, a 19-year-old from Silver Spring, Maryland, was murdered by two unknown assailants on December 21. Doodley attended Kennedy High School, where he was an honors student. At the time of his death, Doodley was a sophomore at Virginia State University, where he was majoring in political science. Doodley was home with his family for winter break when he was murdered.

Doodley's death has caused intense grief for his parents, three siblings, grandparents, and a host of others who knew him. In an article published by the Gazette (a local Maryland newspaper), Doodley's mother Martine Derose reflected on her son's life:
He loved to play baseball, he loved people. . . . He loved his mother; he always called me all the time to say "Mommy I love you" and "Thank you so much for helping me go to school, I'm going to do well for you."
JFK's New Frontier, the newspaper from Doodley's high school, also published an article regarding his death. The newpaper reported that Doodley had recently returned to the school to "speak with students about the challenges of college and how to do well academically." People who knew Doodley have also expressed their grief in various Facebook postings.

The circumstances surrounding Doodley's murder are as mysterious as they are tragic. According to a Gazette report, Doodley was at his parents' home with a friend the day he died. At some point, he went downstairs and answered the door. Three men were at the door. Doodley's father Linois Derose, who was also in the house, knew one man, but not the two others.

After the men began shouting, Doodley ushered in his friend in the house and left the two others outside. Suddenly, bullets flew through the door. One struck Doodley in the chest. He died later that day.

Doodley's father questioned his son's friend about the identity of the two men, but the individual said that he did not know them. Linois Derose, however, found this response highly suspicious. Meanwhile, the police investigation continues.

Update: Police have released a picture and name of a suspect in the murder of Doodley Derose. See here.

Update II: A suspect in Doodley's murder has surrendered to authorities at the Montgomery County jail in Rockville, Maryland.

Jahed Ahmad Babi

On December 20, police in Fairfax County, Virginia discovered the body of Jahed Ahmad Babi, a 19-year-old from Burke, Virginia, in a local park. Jahed lived a short distance from the park in which his body was found.

Jahed graduated from Lake Braddock Secondary School and was pursuing classes at Northern Virginia Community College. Ironically, his family fled from Afghanistan to escape years of violence in the country; tragically, Jahed became a homicide victim in the US.

Jahed's family has declined to speak with media. His numerous friends, however, have honored his memory in press accounts and on Facebook. Jahed's friends describe him as smart, genuine and very friendly -- perhaps to a fault. He reportedly excelled in his studies and graduated from high school a year early.

During an interview with a local Fox News station, Evan Guerrero, who described Jahed as his best friend, said "I honestly don't know what to do. I was with the guy day and night and it kills me to not have him here with me anymore. . . ." In another interview, Abraham Wehelie, whose older brother befriended Jahed, said that "My mom set [Jahed] up as a good example of what I should to aspire to."

Social media, such as Facebook, provide additional insight regarding Jahed's relationship with his friends. One friend offered a touching tribute to Jahed following his funeral:
Your funeral was beautiful. So many people cared about you and have known you as the sweet and generous guy that you were. Many tears were drawn, however we know that this isn't goodbye. None of us can go in peace until this guy is caught and pay for what he's done. See you in the afterlife R.I.P
Police have not released a motive or the names of any suspects in Jahed's death. Police, however, describe the murder as an "isolated incident," which suggests that Jahed's killers targeted him.

Comments by some of Jahed's friends suggest that he may have had connections with the "wrong crowd." According to one friend, Jahed "was a good guy with the wrong crowd, the wrong kinds of people who dragged him along to the darker side. . . ." Another friend said that Jahed "was always a good guy, it's just the people he was with . . . ." Regardless of the motive, Jahed was well liked, and his death remains a painful tragedy.

Isaac Joyner

On December 24, a man approached 14-year-old Isaac Joyner of Baltimore and began shooting at him and two other teens. A bullet stuck Isaac in the head, killing him almost instantly. His friends, however, sustained injuries that are not life-threatening. Now, police are trying to figure out who killed Isaac while he stood outside of his aunt's home at 7:30 pm on Christmas Eve.

Isaac's aunt, Michelle Joyner, was particularly close to her nephew and stated in interviews that she could not celebrate Christmas without him. Isaac's Christmas presents, which included sweaters, shirts and a camera, remain in a closet in her home.

Isaac's grandmother, with whom he and his mother lived, described him as a tender child: "He would tell me every night that he loved me. . . .If I was asleep, he would shake me real good until I woke up and say, I love you, Grandma." Jabril Hall, a friend of Isaac, said that "Issac was so close, he was more like family."

Last year, Isaac watched a documentary sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The documentary, Men II Boys, analyzes the lives of individuals, primarily African-American males, who grew up without their fathers. The film's producer wants to help children deal with the psychological pain of their experiences and to inspire them to achieve in spite of their conditions.

Isaac's reaction to the film, which was quoted in the JHU Gazette, has a chilling significance in light of his untimely demise: "The film really made me think about how hard it is being a black man in America. . . ." Police have not released a motive or the name of a suspect in Isaac's murder.

Final Thoughts

Although these cases have received scattered attention in the media, the stories warrant more attention. Violence is a pervasive problem that victimizes persons in low-income communities of color. This violence is one of the most serious problems the US faces today, and it relates to many other issues, including education, poverty, racism, and the lack of economic opportunity.

Despite the magnitude and severity of the problem, the media often push stories of homicides involving persons of color to the margins. Every murder victim, however, has a story that warrants telling.

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