Couple slain as they arrive home


Tribune Staff Reporter

A MAN and a woman were shot dead in the Joan’s Heights area early yesterday morning, marking the third double homicide in New Providence this month. The incident, which some neighbours speculated was a “targetted crime,” occurred just after midnight on Tuesday.

The violent occurrence has left the community shocked, with one resident telling The Tribune: “Never mind this fairytale about crime being down, a young family (has been) ripped apart with a mother dead at her door and a daddy shot behind a (car) wheel.”

Asking not to be named or photographed, that resident, who has called the community home for nearly two decades, said something urgently needed to be done to “help the crazy energy” around the country.

He spoke to The Tribune a short distance away from where the couple was fatally shot. “We live in a cold world. Killers don’t have fear no more. The killers go after who they want with no fear of the (police). Understand me, they got taken out right at the door.

“That’s something you can’t explain around. When the (police) come, they’re going to make this a numbers thing, an area thing; but you have to know these young people with babies, gone,” he added.

The victims were identified by family and friends as James Johnson, a 29-year-old father of one, and Kevisha Kerika Richards, a 23-year-old mother of two.

According to police, the couple had just pulled up to an apartment on New Hope Drive when they were shot.

Police discovered the man inside the vehicle and the woman lying in front of a home. Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene. The woman was rushed to hospital but died of her injuries a short time later.

The Tribune understands that Johnson, who celebrated his birthday on Monday, and Richards were involved in a relationship.

The couple was described by family and friends as young, loving and family-oriented.

Richards lived at the New Hope Drive apartment complex with her two children.

She reportedly moved there in May to escape a past relationship. That relationship was described as contentious by several sources yesterday.

Another area resident who knew the couple, who also asked not to be named or photographed, told The Tribune that the young mother was a woman “striving to do good,” adding that her death comes as complete “shock to the system.”

“I knew her from a child,” the resident said. “Her mother and I have been good friends for a while and that’s how she ended up here.

“She was a girl about her kids. Everything she did was with them in mind. I can’t believe this. We just talked about the painter coming to paint this week, my house was going to be first and then her unit next.”

Speaking about Johnson, the resident said: “It was his birthday. He asked me earlier in the day if I would buy him a drink to celebrate and I promised him that it would come around Christmas after I done get the repairs done to the house. I promised him that.”

Johnson was an employee at Battery and Tyre’s alignment facility for the past two years.

The Tribune visited the site yesterday and co-workers said he was dedicated to his craft and found joy in providing for his family.

When contacted for an update yesterday afternoon, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said investigators were following several leads.

When asked by The Tribune if the ordeal could have been related to a domestic dispute, ACP Fernander said it was a line of inquiry officers were following.

Four others have been killed in double murders earlier this month. Two men, one of whom was being electronically monitored by police, were found shot to death in Jubilee Gardens on the morning of December 5 in a car with its motor still running. It is believed they were shot dead in the late hours of Tuesday December 4.

That same week, on Monday December 3, an engaged couple was shot dead during a morning ambush at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

The incident, which shocked many who had gathered in the area, reportedly played out as the victims attempted to leave Sandilands following a therapy session.

Despite the violent incidents, police have said their strategies are working as murders are trending lower this year compared to 2017.

Up to press time, there were 89 murders compared to this time last year when 121 killings had been recorded, according to this newspaper’s records, representing a 26 percent decrease.

Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to call police at 919, the Central Detective Unit at 502-9991 or Crime Stoppers at 328-TIPS.