Cockaynes Continue Media Campaign

Murder victim James Cockayne’s parents continued their media blitz in lambasting both the V.I. Police and V.I. Justice Departments during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Big Story with John Gibson on Friday evening, August 24.

In the seven minute segment, titled “Caribbean Nightmare,” Bill and Jeanie Cockayne made a number of allegations about the VIPD which Gibson dubbed “a long list of weirdnesses.”

Jeanie Cockayne has been in contact with missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway’s mother who urged her to keep the media pressure on to ensure action in the investigation, she explained on the show.

The Cockaynes also alleged that government officials were trying to keep the murder quiet to avoid negative impacts on tourism and detailed other assaults which were hushed up.

Cockayne, a 21-year-old Pennsylvania resident, was fatally stabbed in the early morning hours of June 19 in the area of Fashion Palace in Cruz Bay.

Front Yard Bar Fight
The stabbing occurred after Cockayne was reportedly ejected from a number of Cruz Bay establishments and seen kicking passing vehicles outside of Woody’s Seafood Saloon. He got into a public confrontation in The Front Yard bar with Anselmo Boston and Kamal Thomas before walking up the street towards the site where he was eventually killed, according to police affidavits.

After Boston and Thomas hit Cockayne over the head with a pool stick, the two followed him up the street where the murder occurred, according to the VIPD’s affidavit.

The murder victim had been on island about one month and was awaiting paperwork from the British Virgin Islands for employment as a sailing instructor at the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda when he was killed.

Parents Go to Media After Month
After a month passed without any arrests, the Cockaynes appeared on Fox News Channel’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren on July 31, where they claimed VIPD officials ignored leads, mishandled evidence and kept them in the dark.

The Cockaynes and their attorney Sean Summers also appeared in a 15-minute segment on CNN’s Larry King Live on August 8, where they expressed continued frustration with the VIPD and questioned the safety of tourists visiting St. John.

In addition to the national news channels, the Cockaynes have appeared on local Philadelphia and Ohio television news shows. Cockayne family members and friends have also been vocal on a number of internet blogs where they call for “Justice for Jamie.”

Interpretation of Justice Questioned
“But what is stupefying and horrifying here is the bungle factor in this murder case, which isn’t in a foreign country, but instead a U.S. territory,” according to a blog entry on the Web site “Our American interpretation of justice doesn’t seem to exist, does it? First degree murder suspects who are flight risks are getting bail we normally see on the mainland for much lesser offenses.”

“Are we supposed to continue to travel and live in the U.S. Virgin Islands and pretend that ‘America’s Paradise’ is not a hotbed of corruption?” the blog continued.

To date VIPD officials have made three arrests. Thomas, 18, was arrested on August 3 and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.

Low Bail Set for Thomas
While in custody, Thomas — a Georgia native who has lived on St. John for about a year — was also charged with witness intimidation.

Following a hearing on Thursday, August 9, V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall set bail for Thomas at $75,000 and allowed the murder suspect to be able to post only 10 percent of that amount to secure his release for the murder, assault and weapons charges.

For the witness intimidation charge, Kendall set  $25,000 surety bond bail, which requires the suspect to post twice that amount in order to be released. 

Thomas was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device, stay with a third party custodian and remain under house arrest upon his release from jail. As of press time, however, Thomas remained in the St. Thomas correctional facility, according to Justice Department officials.

Ryan Meade, 31, of Pine Peace was arrested on August 6 and charged with witness intimidation. On August 7, Kendall set a $10,000 unsecured bond for Meade’s bail, which allowed the suspect to walk free.

Boston Arrested At Airport
VIPD officials arrested Boston, 31, on August 9 at Cyril King Airport and charged the St. Croix native with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and weapons charges.

After a prosecutor showed up for a detainment hearing more than 30 minutes late on August 17, V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar set a $100,000 surety bond bail for the murder suspect, meaning he had to post twice that amount to secure his release.

Boston’s relatives reportedly posted their St. Croix house as collateral and he was released on Friday, August 24. Under conditions of his release, Boston is under house arrest until a remote monitoring system is activated, which is expected shortly, according to Justice Department officials.

No Word From A.G.’s Office
It remained unclear as of press time if a trial has been scheduled. Assistant Attorney General Renee Carty-Gumbs, the lead prosecutor in the murder case, declined comment and referred question to Deputy Attorney General Charlotte Poole-Davis.

Poole-Davis did not return repeated phone calls from the St. John Tradewinds as of press time.