Family of slain teen scours St. Rose for murder weapon
2 teens have been charged with murder, weapon never recovered
Danikca Johnson, the step-sister of murdered teen Jared Mealey, holds up a flyer offering $1,000 for the recovery of the weapon used in the crime.
Stopping just a few doors down from murder suspect 19-year-old Leslie Reed’s house, Jared’s parents Monica and Leo approached two teenage boys sitting on the curb.
"You all go to Destrehan?" Monica said.
The boys nodded their heads and said "yes."
"You knew my son Jared then didn’t you?" Monica said. "He was a good guy wasn’t he?"
After shaking the boy’s hands and leaving them with one of the bright yellow flyers showing a picture of Jared and a title reading Justice for Jared "J Mealz" Mealey, the Mealeys headed down the street.
Although Reed and 16-year-old Keywine Bradford have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Leo Mealey said the family’s purpose was to get more evidence in the case.
"The grand jury convenes on June 25 and we just want to get them the most amount of evidence possible before then," Leo said. "But we haven’t gotten additional information. It’s just the same thing. They are telling on each other – ‘he did it. I didn’t do it. He did it.’ And that’s their story, but we know we got the right people."
The two suspects currently being held have implicated one another as the shooter in the murder.
Reed lived only a few blocks from the Mealey’s home and Jared’s step-mother, Deanna Mealey, said the family knew him well.
"He was a classmate. They went to school together and he was in and out of the house," Deanna said. "He was a friend."
According to court documents, Reed implicated Bradford in the crime, saying the 16-year-old appeared at his home moments after the murder and admitted he was the shooter. In a signed statement, Bradford claims he and Reed were together during the shooting and Reed asked him to shoot Mealey. Bradford said he agreed and took the gun from Reed before he "froze up" and handed it back.
According to Bradford’s statement, Reed then shot Mealey.
The gun used in the murder has not yet been found and the Mealeys are hoping that their work results in that key piece of evidence being turned over to the court.
Despite not knowing if Bradford, Reed or perhaps another identified person was the shooter, the family said the motive is still unclear.
"Useless. Senseless. Any word you could put on it that it was just unnecessary," Leo said. "That’s cold-blooded."
Monica said the motive is not important.
"Either way, whatever the motive is it is a hard pill to swallow," Monica said. "But just to know that you are going to deliberately conspire to do something like that is just…"
The family has agreed that whoever is responsible for the murder should receive the toughest penalty possible.
"I don’t think either one of them would be eligible for the death penalty," Monica said. "Even if we had a choice we wouldn’t want to go that way, but they need to spend the rest of their life in jail."
The Mealeys praised the work of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, but said there is only so much that can be done if the murder weapon is not found.
"They are doing the best job possible," Leo said. "They are working with limited information and we are going to try and get some more information, if possible. That is why we are passing these out. We are working with Crimestoppers to try and retrieve the murder weapon, and of course try to get any kind of additional information we can get."
The Mealeys said they only found out about the Crimestoppers evidence retrieval program a few days before hitting the streets. Monica said once they heard about it, they put the plan in place to canvass the neighborhood.
"We just feel that somebody knows something. Somebody saw something," Monica said. "The real purpose of this campaign is that maybe somebody will look at his picture again and say, ‘You know what, I’ve got to say something.’ So I think our presence and being here and talking to people makes it a little more personal instead of just reading it in the paper."
After the Mealeys finished handing out flyers in Preston Hollow, they began their walk back to their vehicles to drive over to old St. Rose to canvass First through Fourth streets.
A neighbor called out to Leo wishing him well.
"Thank you. We appreciate it. We’ll be praying for you too," Leo said.
Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. All calls to Crimestoppers are anonymous and any information that leads to an indictment will be rewarded. In particular, anyone who provides information leading to the retrieval of the gun used in Mealey’s murder will receive $1,000.
Both the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office have declined comment on the matter citing a gag order issued by the court.
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