City murder remains unsolved six years later

STEUBENVILLE – Kelly Schoonover cried while she listened to family members talk about her son.

Approximately a dozen people braved the wind and cold temperatures Monday afternoon to remember Joshua Schoonover, who was shot and killed six years ago on Kendall Avenue.

“Thank goodness for the ones who are here today. Our numbers are dwindling, but we still remember Joshua and the fact his murder remains unsolved after six years,” Kelly said as family members tried in vain to light candles.

Kelly Schoonover still can remember her last conversation with her son.

“We all had dinner together that evening. He was leaving and we always told each other ‘I love you’ when we left. I told him I loved him and gave him a kiss and he left. Then a minute later he came back in the door and grabbed something from the snack basket. He smiled at me from the door and said he loved me. That was the last time I saw him alive,” she recalled.

“I heard him come in later that night. Then I heard him go out and close the front door. I figured he was going home. I wish I had gotten up that night. I am his mother and I have the pain of losing my son every day I wake up,” said Kelly Schoonover.

“I know someone knows what happened that night. And I feel we need to have the candlelight vigil so the public will remember this isn’t resolved. This is still an open case,” Kelly Schoonover pointed out.

“I was told he may have went to a party on Kendall Avenue. That is just down the street from my house. But I never heard a thing until the telephone rang that day,” she related.

“Six years later and no one has been charged with murdering Josh. But we must pray for justice. The persons who are responsible for this still walk the streets and are with their families. I pray to God my son will have justice,” she added.

“Everyone knows what happened that night. But no one has come forward. I don’t care if I have to come here for the next 25 years. I will keep coming back here to celebrate my brother’s life. He was the heart of our family. We must continue doing what he would want us to do and that means we need to love one another, get an education and celebrate Josh’s life,” said Nikita Schoonover.

Her sister, Nikki Schoonover, read a poem and noted “Joshua will forever be in our lives. We miss his smiling face.

“There has been a lot of evidence collected but some people don’t care what happened to our brother,” said Nikki.

“Today is the worse day of my life,” stated Kim Taylor.

Taylor was engaged to Joshua at the time of his death.

They had a son, Joshua Jr., who stood quietly with his mother during the memorial service.

“I cannot move on. I dream about Joshua and cry all the time. The one person I ever loved was taken away. It makes me so sad that something like this happened to us and happens to other people. All I can do now is keep reminding people of Joshua and maybe God will help us find justice,” Taylor said.

“But even worse is knowing there is a murderer walking around free. There are people who know exactly what happened that morning and they know who murdered Josh. But no one is talking,” said Taylor.

That wall of silence that has frustrated Taylor for nearly a year now also has stymied City Police.

“We have talked to 57 witnesses about this case. We are hopeful that the people at the scene that morning will talk to someone else. And that person will talk to another person. We know the murder happened on the street and we are hoping someone who was in the area will come forward,” said Police Chief Bill McCafferty.

“The people who live in this community owe it to themselves to help us solve this murder. We won’t tolerate this type of crime in our community. Sooner or later, someone will talk about the murder and I believe someone will come forward. When we receive new information we follow up on that information,” said McCafferty.

According to Police Capt. Joel Walker, “We have ideas of what took place that night. But due to the fact no actual witnesses will come forward, makes it very hard to solve this murder.”

One year after the Schoonover murder Walker issued a public appeal for help.

“Come forward and talk to us confidentially. There was a party that night on the same street and a lot of people were in the area. There are people who know what happened and they need to come forward,” Walker said

“The people we have talked to heard things. We had an initial report of shots ringing out. Our community wants us to solve this crime. But the people who know won’t assist us by coming forward with information. Witnesses or anyone who knows anything can tell us what they know confidentially. We have talked to every witnesses we could find but no one is telling us anything substantial. No one wants to solve this case more than us, his mom and his fiancee. We are dedicated to solving this murder,” Walker added.

“Josh would do anything for anyone. He would never pick a fight with anyone. He always had a smile for everyone and I can tell you he really loved his children,” said Kelly Schoonover.

“Nothing will ever ease my pain of losing my son. My son wouldn’t fight with someone else. I just wish the person who killed him had just taken what they wanted and left him alone. I have been told there may have been a fight that night. I know for certain Josh didn’t have a gun and so I don’t know why the other person had to use a gun. I just want answers,” she said.