‘Quiet’ 23-year-old found murdered near Hopewell playground: ‘It’s just messed up’

Crime

HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — A homicide investigation is underway in Hopewell after a man was found shot to death near a playground in Hopewell early Wednesday morning. 

Police were called shortly after 12:45 a.m. to the Thomas Rolfe Court public housing complex for reports of multiple shots being fired.

 Responding officers found a male victim near the playground. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

He was later identified as 23-year-old Javon T. Stith of Southampton County.

8News reached out to the young man’s brother Donte Stith who said he is heartbroken after losing his brother. He said Javon loved his family and will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Sophelia May spoke with 8News, who said Stith went by the name ‘Juice.’ She said he was from Waverly and often visited a cousin who lived at the housing complex.

May also called Stith a relatively ‘quiet’ man who mostly kept to himself.

“He was very calm, like, a regular person, I would never have thought that something like that would have happened to him,” she said. “I’ve never even heard him raise his voice, I’ve never even heard him cuss.

 “It still hasn’t registered to me yet. Whoever did this, I don’t know what they did it for, but it’s just messed up all around.”

Another neighbor told 8News that an uptick in crime has she and others in their neighborhood on edge.

 “My granddaughter hears gunshots and she hits the floor,” Edith Parham said. “She doesn’t even come outside much anymore. That’s how bad it’s gotten.”

Parham said it’s sad to hear that the man shot was so young.

“You never know what they could have been one day and now somebody’s mother has to bury their child,” Parham said. “That’s the sad part.”

Few details have been released at this time regarding a motive and/or circumstances surrounding Stith’s death, but investigators say foul play is suspected and they are investigating the death as a homicide. 

“The Hopewell Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit continues to investigate this matter, and is further requesting that any person(s) who may have witnessed the incident, were traveling in and around the area at the time of the shooting or have any information to provide regarding the homicide, contact Lead Detective Keith Krueger at (804) 541-2284. Additionally, any person(s) who have information on this or any other crime occurring in the City of Hopewell may contact the Hopewell/Prince George Crimesolvers hotline in Hopewell at (804) 541-2202. You can also provide a tip anonymously via the P3tips app.”

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story. 

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