More than a week after a young Pennsylvania man was stabbed to death in Cruz Bay shortly after midnight June 19, V.I. Police Department officials continued to provide no public information on the status of any investigation.
Meanwhile, stateside publicity continued to build about the fatal attack on James (Jamie) P. Cockayne, the scion of a prominent New Jersey political family, including the establishment of a memorial fund in the young sailor’s name.
St. John Tradewinds Web site, stjohnnews.com, received a record number of visits with more than 2,800 readers accessing last week’s news article pertaining to the murder. A number of telephone calls were also received from stateside media organizations.
Newly appointed St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy was not available for a scheduled interview on Friday, June 29, with St. John Tradewinds.
No VIPD Comment on Witnesses to Killing
Although police released no information on the investigation, island sources told St. John Tradewinds there were at least two witnesses to the fatal stabbing.
One witness told a Tradewinds source he went to the VIPD’s Leander Jurgen Command — which is in sight of the scene of the fatal assault — to report the young man was being attacked.
“He (the witness) said he saw the kid getting assaulted near Texaco and he went to the station and told the police they had to go up there,” the Tradewinds source said. “Five minutes later the kid was dead.”
“He said he saw the guys who did it and that the police definitely had suspects,” the source said.
There was no record of anyone making an incident report on the Cruz Bay station’s public blotter and VIPD spokesperson Shawna Richards did not return repeated telephone calls requesting information on the status of the murder investigation.
Another passer-by told St. John Tradewinds that shortly after the fatal stabbing a young restaurant worker who had witnessed the attack was sitting on the curb nearby as a single EMT was attending to the victim and several police officers stood by at the scene.
That witness reportedly later took money from the safe of the restaurant where he worked — leaving a note of explanation — and quickly left the island out of concern for his safety.
The attack occurred less than 100 yards from the island’s major intersection near a known hangout for island teenagers which in recent years has been the scene of several serious late-night assaults on visitors and residents who were alone and impaired by alcohol.
Scene of Previous Incidents
One resident restaurant worker was severely beaten at the same spot a few years ago and left the island to return to California shortly after being released from the St. Thomas hospital for further treatment of the massive head injuries the man suffered in the attack.
No suspect ever was charged in that incident.
Within days of the latest attack, police and government officials hired a private company to trim trees that line the one-way street to improve visibility in the area.
Grandson of N.J. Gubernatorial Candidate
Cockayne, who had been seen talking to numerous people in a downtown bar hours before his death, was the namesake and grandson of a former candidate for Governor of the state of New Jersey, the late James Patrick Gilligan. Gilligan ran unsuccessfully against former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Cockayne, who was waiting to start a job as a sailing instructor at the Bittter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands, and his mother, Jean, were living on St. John at the time of his murder and the family was planning to buy a home here, according to family members.