While violent crime is far from common on St. John, a highly-publicized homicide cast once tranquil and sleepy St. John in a darker light last year.
After reeling from the brutal slaying of long-time resident David Geiger in October 2005, island residents were shocked again to hear of the vicious June 19 stabbing of 21-year-old Pennsylvania resident Jamie Cockayne.
The New Hope, PA, resident was on St. John awaiting paperwork to come through for a sailing instruction job at the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda.
Cockayne, however, would never be able to accept that position. He collapsed and died near Fashion Palace in Cruz Bay after being stabbed multiple times, including once in the femoral artery.
After several weeks with no arrests, Cockayne’s parents launched a national media campaign highlighting the murder which was picked up by CNN and Fox News, among other television stations.
Two St. John residents were eventually arrested and charged with first degree murder in relation to the stabbing and a third man was arrested and charged with witness intimidation. All three men have been out on bail since August.
Georgia-native Kamal Thomas, 18, was arrested on August 3 and charged with first degree murder, first degree assault and weapons charges. While he was in custody, Thomas was arrested for witness intimidation.
St. Croix-native Anselmo Boston, 31, was arrested on August 9 and also charged with first degree murder, first degree assault and weapons charges.
Pine Peace resident Ryan Meade, 31, was arrested on August 6 and charged with witness intimidation.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall released Thomas on August 9 after setting a $75,000 bail and allowing the murder suspect to post only 10 percent of the amount. Kendall released Meade on August 7 after setting a $10,000 unsecured bond for his bail.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar released Boston on August 17, after prosecutors showed up for a detainment hearing more than 30 minutes late. After dismissing the motion for detainment, Hollar set bail at $100,000 and Boston posted twice that amount as collateral to secure his release.
V.I. Attorney General officials have not released any information regarding court dates for the suspects.
Alston Smith, 22, was the second homicide victim of the year. Smith was shot in the face in the Pine Peace area on November 29.
Michael Abraham, 22, confessed to the shooting and turned in the murder weapon, but officials did not charge him with murder until last week.
The island also saw three armed robberies, all of which occurred in the last two months.
The Coral Bay Domino Gas Station was hit by two barefoot men in a daylight armed robbery on November 27. Both suspects got away and no one was injured in the robbery.
The second armed robbery occurred during the early morning hours of December 24 when a female employee at Captain’s Cabin in Wharfside Village was robbed at gunpoint.
Two armed men robbed five card players at an illegal establishment on government-owned property in Estate Enighed during the early morning of December 28, in the third armed robbery on St. John in 2007.
Police arrested Michael Stanislas, 27, of St. Thomas and charged him with first degree robbery, first degree assault, reckless endangerment and unauthorized possession of a firearm and ammunition in connection to the card game armed robbery.
Four rapes were reported on St. John in 2007, up from three in 2003. VIPD officials, however, did solve two of those rapes, as opposed to solving none in 2006.
Despite a flurry of break-ins and thefts in the final weeks of 2007, the island’s non-violent crime statistics remained lower this year than 2006.
Second degree burglaries and grand larcenies occurred with more frequency in 2007 than in 2006. Second degree burglaries were up from nine last year to 13 this year. Grand larcenies increased from 77 in 2006 to 95 in 2007.
The biggest drop in crimes were in the instances of third degree burglaries, which fell from 112 last year to 77 this in 2007.