21-year-old Dies of Stab Wounds; Police Have No Suspects

Authorities have no suspects in the murder of a 21-year-old male who was stabbed to death early Tuesday morning, June 19, in Estate Enighed, according to a prepared statement issued by the V.I. Police Department.

“The Major Crimes Unit is investigating a stabbing incident on St. John that was reported to police at 12:28 a.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2007,” according to the press release. “The victim, a 21-year-old white male, was found in the vicinity of the Fashion Palace in Estate Enighed. The victim, who has been identified as James P. Cockayne, sustained multiple stab wounds to the body.”

“According to police reports, emergency medical personnel at the scene detected faint signs of life and administered life saving techniques to the victim,” the statement continued. “He was taken by ambulance to the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic where he expired from his injuries. Mr. Cockayne was pronounced dead at 1:10 a.m.”

No Suspects
VIPD officials have no suspects in the murder case, according to VIPD spokesperson Shawna Richards.

“We have no suspects and no additional information,” said Richards. “We’re asking people with information to contact the Major Crimes Unit at 715-5544.”

The murder victim was a tall blonde male on the thin side, according to residents who were familiar with Cockayne. He was last seen exiting a Cruz Bay bar around 10:30 p.m., just hours before he was killed.

Cockayne was animated and talking to many people, according to several who saw him in the bar, which is near the murder scene, two hours before the incident.

While it remains unclear what went on outside Donald Schnell’s newly renovated Estate Enighed building where Cockayne was stabbed to death, an argument between him and an unknown man took place, according to people who were nearby when the incident occurred.


Cockayne was fatally stabbed in Estate Enighed, near the Fashion Palace, above.


Argument Heard, Man Seen Running
Shouting was heard from the area, then a man was seen running from the scene down the street adjacent to St. Ursula’s Church, according to one account.

Cockayne was then seen staggering in the area, bleeding profusely. One EMT responded to the scene and two police officers stood nearby with their arms crossed, according to a resident who passed the scene.

The amount of blood — which was extensive, according to one witness — appeared to indicate that Cockayne was stabbed in the femoral artery, near his groin.

Cockayne came to St. John from New Hope, Pennsylvania, where his family has their permanent home.  The young man had moved to St. John with his mother in late May and the two were living in a rental home.

Cockayne was preparing to work at Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. In his last days, he and his mother had been house hunting on St. John.

(See Family Letter in "Letters to the Editor" section of this Web site)

The island’s first homicide of the year occurred on January 4, when 17-year-old Michael Freeman was gunned down in a shootout with VIPD officers in Estate Adrian near Center Line Concrete.

More than six months later, details of the shootout remain sketchy. The gunfight occurred after VIPD officers pulled over a white SUV which matched descriptions of a vehicle involved in several burglaries in the Fish Bay area.

Ballistic Tests Lagging
While two minors and one Dominica native were arrested and released following the incident, two suspects remain at large and VIPD officials still have not completed ballistics tests.

“Ballistics tests are still under way,” Richards told the St. John Tradewinds in late May. “We do not yet have the results to determine if, in fact, the fatal shot was administered by a police-issued weapon. We are awaiting results of that testing.”

St. John enjoyed a year of calm throughout 2006 when no homicides were reported, but it took at least that long for residents to recover from the brutal slaying of popular resident David Geiger.

On October 29, 2005, Geiger was found in the bedroom of his burning Estate Grunwald home. Neighbors were able to pull his severely beaten son Nathan, then 14, from the flames.

Last year Renell Lettsome was convicted of second-degree murder in the case and is serving a roughly 50-year sentence.