Written by Stephanie Allen

2010: Jimmy Hughes Jean

2010: Jimmy Hughes Jean by Stephanie Allen

Family Waits for a Witness to Speak

November 22, 2010

Susie Jordany dreams of getting a phone call, one when she can hear Lakeland police Detective Russ Hurley’s voice on the other end telling her the nightmares she’s been having might finally stop.

And her family might finally be able to continue with their lives because they know who killed her son, Jimmy.

It’s been almost four years, and every day Jordany prays something will change.

She prays someone will see how much hurt and pain her family has suffered.

How different their lives are without him.

How his three boys are growing up without a father.

And how badly his family wants some type of closure.

“I have nightmares. There are nights that I can’t sleep, I walk around the house, I go to the cemetery and spend a lot of time sitting there thinking what happened and why doesn’t someone come and say something,” Jordany said. “But I have no control over it. They’re going to do whatever they’re going to do. But I’m hoping.”

Jimmy Hughes Jean, 26, was shot about 4 p.m. on Nov. 22, 2010, during a fight on the 800 block of West Fifth Street, Lakeland police said.

A friend drove him to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he died the next day. That was a Tuesday, and he was supposed to be helping his mother prepare for Thanksgiving on Thursday.

He always helped her, she said. Their family hasn’t celebrated the holiday since then.

Earlier this year, the Lakeland Police Department revamped its homicide division to let detectives Brad Grice and Scott Kercher focus their work on cold cases, so Hurley and Detective Brian Wallace can have time to work on more recent homicides, such as Jean’s.

As part of a continuing series in partnership with LPD, The Ledger is profiling many of the department’s 37 cold cases and unsolved homicides. The detectives hope that with a little help from the community and some extra time to work, they might be able to solve more of the cases.

Jean’s family hopes for that, too. “I’m hoping someone will come forward and say something because if it was your child — as a mother, as a brother, as a son, as a father — say something,” Jordany said. “Don’t just sit there and watch this family go through this.”

SILENT WITNESSES

Jean was getting ready to take his teenage sister to cheerleading practice that afternoon when someone knocked on the door.

It was a friend of his younger brother, Eric Jean. He said he knew who broke Eric’s car windows and stole a cellphone a few days earlier. A group of friends were going to track the man down and confront him about paying for the damage. Eric Jean was at work.

His brother offered to stand in for him. But once at the intersection of Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue, the confrontation turned into a fight among dozens of people, police said. And then the fight turned into a shooting.

Jean was the only person shot as both groups exchanged gunfire, said Hurley, the detective assigned to the case.

And because of evidence that detectives have, Hurley said it appears one of Jean’s friends may have accidentally shot him while he ran away.

Since the shooting, Hurley said detectives have yet to identify many of the more than 50 people who witnessed it. And knowing that has devastated Jordany.

“There were so many people there,” she said. “How could you stand by and watch someone take someone’s life and you saw what happened as a witness and you don’t want to say anything? I don’t get it.”

LEGACY LIVES ON

Jean left behind three sons: Jamari, who was 3 at the time; Jayden, 2; and Jimmy Jean Jr., 1. The oldest is the spitting image of his father, Jordany said. Those three little boys are his living legacy.

Jordany said Jean loved his children more than anything and had dreams of making a life for them. At the time of the shooting, he was on a break from classes at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

He planned to return in January and was working toward a business degree, his mother said. Jordany said it’s been hard coming to terms with how her son died. She said he stayed out of trouble and was a hard worker, with big dreams and aspirations. He had a smile that could light up a room, and he was everyone’s best friend.

“We always said he was a brother first, a father second and then he was a best friend at the end of the day because everybody could rely on him,” said his older brother, Johnny Jean. “If you asked him to do something, he always did it.”

Jordany said she knows God has a plan for her family and will bring her the closure she needs. She’s been waiting four years for an answer, she said, and she’s going to keep waiting until she gets one.

“Every day, we count our blessings and hope that somebody will say something,” she said. “I know it’s not because they don’t want to say; it’s the fear. They don’t want to be a snitch, and it’s ‘I’m afraid if I say something there’s going to be repercussion,’ or whatever. But if you don’t say anything you’re keeping the door closed. And it’s not right.”


Stephanie Allen can be reached at stephanie.allen@theledger.com or 863-802-7550. 

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