Cockayne Family Friend Poses Questions to DeJongh

Dear Governor John deJongh,

I am a close family friend of Jeanie and Bill Cockayne, and have been intimately involved in their efforts to try to make some sense out of their son’s tragic murder on the island of St. John, as well as the excruciatingly difficult task of dealing with your local police force and government.

It is inconceivable that this family has been given no information whatsoever about their son’s murder, or the investigation surrounding it. They have been lied to, passed around from person to person and completely ignored by your office. After waiting week after agonizing week for the V.I. police to do their job (to no avail), we have now taken the steps to bring this situation to the attention of the news media. Even they are not able to get any information from the local police about the investigation, despite their efforts. The Cockaynes have repeatedly asked very legitimate questions since the morning of June 19, when their son was slain.

– Was the video camera that is positioned outside of the police station (next door to The Front Yard where their son was last seen alive) in working order and is there footage from that evening?

– Exactly where was their son murdered? They have repeatedly asked to be brought to the scene by a police official and they have been refused.

– Are there records of the 911 call that one of the witnesses made as he held Jamie in his arms as he bled to death?

– Why were the police so slow to respond when frantic eyewitnesses told them that “a white boy was being attacked” less than 150 yards from the station?

– Where are Jamie’s clothes and hat? Why was key evidence returned to the Cockaynes or destroyed?

– Was the getaway car ever impounded to gather forensic evidence? An eyewitness again was able to identify the make and model of the car, and was later able to get the license plate (when he/she saw the same car downtown several weeks later).

– Why are you refusing to allow the federal government to intervene when it is so clear that your V.I. police force on St. John is frighteningly incompetent?

– Why would you not allow the Cockaynes to turn over the evidence that they gathered through their own private investigation, when their only caveat was to have a U.S. attorney present? What are you afraid of?

– How can you explain the ludicrous number of unsolved crimes on the island of St. John in the past two years? A total of five crimes solved out of a total of 315? If these numbers, which are reported in the St. John Tradewinds, are incorrect, why are you unable (or unwilling) to provide accurate numbers and “correct the public record?” Don’t the people of St. John deserve to know the truth, especially if — as Captain Foy says — the real numbers are so much better than those published?

– Why are so many islanders afraid to come forward with information about crimes, including this one? Why have many expressed the fact that they are as afraid of the police as they are of the criminals? Are they, in fact, one and the same?

I was on the island with the Cockaynes for two of the weeks that they were down there, trying to work through an excruciatingly slow and convoluted process which was being called “the police investigation.” In the meantime, I was intrigued by the article in a recent edition of the St. John Tradewinds discussing Police Chief Foy’s current agenda, which he announced, centers on “traffic and community relations.” (Like any good journalist, writer Jaime Elliott asked Chief Foy about the Cockayne investigation in the context of his interview, to which Chief Foy basically said, “No comment.”) My, it is amazing to me that Chief Foy would have the time and the energy to worry about traffic and community relations with more than 310 “active” police investigations underway by his department.

The key word there is “active,” of course. If the Cockayne investigation is any indication of how the local police go about fulfilling their responsibility to the community, it seems unlikely that any of these crimes will ever be solved. We have witnesses who have fled the island for fear of their lives, virtually no physical evidence from the crime scene (since the police saw fit to thoroughly clean the area for fear that a tourist might see the bloodbath or was there another reason?), other eyewitnesses who are being threatened, and a complete breakdown in communication between the FBI, VIPD, and stateside law enforcement. Leads go cold, memories fade, and crimes go unsolved. But hey, the people of St. John can look forward to more stringent traffic enforcement and better community relations thanks to Chief Foy. What a comfort.  

There are murderers and other criminals walking the streets of Cruz Bay. They are holding hostage an entire community, who fear retribution if they come forward with information that can lead to an arrest. I assure you that this family and the hundreds of people who love them will not rest until this crime is solved and the corruption that exists in the U.S. Virgin Islands is exposed to the world. Travel agencies, airlines, tourists, potential investors, etc., throughout the U.S. will soon know in no uncertain terms what a dangerous place the U.S. Virgin Islands is. It would be terrible for the good people of your territory to suffer the economic strife that would result from a complete breakdown in your tourism trade (consider what happened in Aruba). But you would only have yourself to blame for that. You, your police and the rest of your government. The people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and all the people of the United States, deserve better than that.

We plead with you to do everything in your power to eliminate the incompetence and potential corruption that exists in the island’s civil infrastructure that make this beautiful island unsafe for all. Let’s make that Step One in Chief Foy’s campaign to improve community relations.  

Barbara A. Alba
Family Friend of the Cockaynes