The Murder of Kétie Memory Jones

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EARLY LIFE:

Katherine “Kétie” Memory Jones was born in Asheville, North Carolina on December 19, 1989. While her father died when she was a child, she lived with her mother, Jevona Livingston, and her half-siblings, Chris and Becca. Throughout her early life, the family moved around, settling in Michigan before returning to North Carolina in 2004, this time moving to Charlotte.

Those who knew Kétie describe her as a fun-loving free spirit who loved everyone she came into contact with. Someone who wore their personality on their sleeve, she was extremely caring and selfless, with a charisma that lit up each room she walked into. Her compassion extended to her friends, who knew they always had a spot at Kétie’s house if they were in need of a place to stay, and she was known as the host of her neighbourhood.

Kétie was also very intelligent. Her nickname is a French twist on the name “Katie” and she taught herself the language. She also had a fascination with binary code and had the word “love” tattooed in it on her left wrist.

An animal lover, Kétie was known to take in and care for strays. In high school, she was known as “Squirrel Girl” because she had nursed an injured squirrel back to health before releasing it back into the wild, and she had even brought the injured critter to school.

Kétie had a great interest in the arts. She enjoyed singing, drawing, crafting and acting, and she loved music festivals. Whilst attending Providence High School in Charlotte, from which she graduated in 2008, she would help out with the theater, working backstage doing set and costume design, as well as set lighting. She would later attend Marymount Manhattan College for technical theater, but in 2010 would leave after three semesters due to financial issues, after which she returned home to Charlotte. It’s said having to leave the school was a source of frustration for Kétie.

Upon returning to Charlotte, Kétie moved into a two-bedroom home on Hawthorne Lane with a friend. She paid the monthly rent to Berryhill Reality Co. When said friend eventually moved out, Kétie stayed in the home. It was perfect location for the frugal young woman, who liked that she was in walking and biking distance from her job as a waitress at BBQ restaurant Midwood Smokehouse.

Two weeks before her death, Kétie had tried to make plans to visit her mother, who she considered her best friend, in Asheville for her birthday. However, since she didn’t have a car, she was unable to make the journey.

At the time of her death, she was just 26 years old.

MURDER:

On the evening of October 14, 2016, Kétie worked a six-hour shift at Midwood Smokehouse. At around 11:00pm, she made her way to Midwood Country Club, where she regularly met friends for drinks. The group chatted for hours under the stars, before deciding to part ways at 2:30am on the morning of October 15.

As the group prepared to leave the country club, a friend of Kétie’s twice offered her a ride. However, she declined both offers, as it was one of the last nice nights of the year and she wanted to enjoy it. This wasn’t out of the ordinary, as she regularly walked home and considered herself to be street-smart. She kept pepper spray in her purse and always ensured her cellphone was in her back pocket, so it could be easily accessed if she needed to use it. As well, she would sometimes call her mother if she was walking home after a particularly late shift, just so she would feel a bit safer.

During her walk, Kétie walked past an all-night 7-11 store near Westover Drive, where another friend pulled over to ask if she wanted a ride home. As with earlier, she declined, and continued her journey, posting pictures to a group Facebook chat and texting her friends. A security camera situated at the Midwood Corners shopping strip caught her singing and dancing as she walked along the 1300 block of The Plaza.

At around 2:47am, those in the area heard two gunshots. Kétie had been shot by an unknown assailant in the parking lot of Berryhill Reality Co., located on Hamorton Place. One had struck her through the side and punctured her heart, as well as one of her lungs. The gunfire had also set off the real estate company’s security alarm.

According to reports, one neighbour living across the street looked out their window in time to see a car drive off, before he called 911. Another, believing someone had set off fireworks in the parking lot, went out to his porch and walked down the street to see what was going on. This is when he came upon Kétie, believing her at first to be someone who had been drinking, passed out and in need of medical aid. He dialled 911 as he approached and saw a stream of blood coming from the body, assuming she must have fallen over and stumbled. He hadn’t yet noticed the gunshot wound.

The neighbour informed the 911 operator that Kétie didn’t appear to be breathing. The operator then told him to turn her over to check for a pulse, after which it was determined she didn’t. He stayed with her until first responders arrived.

Kétie was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic. She had been a quarter of mile from her home when she was gunned down.

INVESTIGATION:

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department took the lead in the investigation. It was the first murder to happen in The Plaza since 2013, but there had been a spike in the number of robberies upon late-night restaurants and employees at the time.

Upon a post-mortem being conducted, it was determined there had been a struggle before Kétie was shot, as her body showed bruising on her left cheek, her left hip, her left elbow and her left lower back.

In the days after her death, her friends canvassed the Midwood Plaza area for any evidence, but were unable to come upon anything of value. As Kétie had no known enemies, nor a history of drug use, it was difficult to figure out where to begin.

Wanting to be close to her daughter, Jevona drove down to Charlotte and stayed at Kétie’s home for three weeks. After it had been packed up, she returned to Asheville with her bike and two dogs.

In the days after Kétie’s murder, a benefit concert was held for the family at Snug Harbor, which was one of her favourite bars. Another memorial was held at Common Market, a frequent haunt of the young woman. There was also a makeshift memorial set up at the site of the murder, which consisted of flowers, glazed doughnuts and numerous candles.

Police were notified about an incident Kétie had been involved in a few weeks prior to her death, where she had had to use pepper spray on a man who was harassing her on Central Avenue. However, there is no evidence the two incidents are connected.

In June 2017, Jevona received a deck of playing cards. They featured the Crime Stoppers logo and phone number on one side and the photos of homicide victims on the other, including Kétie’s. They were distributed to inmates incarcerated at the Mecklehenburg County Jail, in the hopes one might know something in relation to the case.

In 2018, investigators released the only major piece of evidence they have in the case, surveillance footage from a church located across the street from where Kétie was shot. This was done in the hopes of producing new leads. At 2:40am on the night of her murder, it shows Kétie walking down The Plaza before making a left. One minute later, headlights appear next to where she would have been walking and can be seen backing up on Hamorton Place. According to police, enough time passed that it’s probable she spoke to the person in the car before trying to run away. However, there would not have been enough time for her to defend herself. The video ends with the car driving away, 21 seconds after it first appeared in frame. The whole incident occurred within 30 seconds.

While police can’t confirm if the car that appears toward the end of the video is that of Kétie’s killer, it’s believed to be so. However, it’s unlikely this was a drive-by shooting. It’s believed the driver got out of the car and surprised Kétie while she was on the sidewalk. The car is described as a late-model light-coloured Lexus or Toyota that was either gold, silver or champagne in colour.

It’s also been noted that numerous cars drove in and out of frame throughout the duration of the surveillance footage. Five appeared during the time of the murder and 17 while Kétie was lying on the pavement. One vehicle of particular interest is a red mid-size sedan that appeared in frame right by the killer’s car when the shooting took place. Unfortunately, investigators have been unable to determine the make or model.

Kétie’s case has since gone cold, due to the lack of witnesses, fingerprints or a motive. While the investigation is still ongoing and people are still reaching out to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department with tips, authorities still don’t know who shot the her. Despite the lack of leads, Kétie’s mother has remained highly involved with the investigation.

THEORIES:

1) The primary theory in the case is that Kétie’s murder is the result of a random shooting. This is due to the young woman not having any enemies or a history of drug use, as well as the lack of evidence at the scene. This has resulted in a lack of workable leads, other than the surveillance footage released in 2018.

2) Some have speculated that Kétie’s killer offered her a ride home after seeing her walking alone down the street and shot her after she refused. This is a theory that has not been ruled out, as it could be a case of violence against women. However, as with the rest of the theories in this case, the lack of available evidence means investigators can’t be sure of its validity.

3) A third theory in the case could be that Kétie’s death could be a result of an attempted robbery gone wrong. However, stranger robberies rarely end in the murder of the victim, and all of Kétie’s belongings, including her cellphone and her purse with cash in it, were located at the scene. It has been theorized that the security alarm at Berryhill Reality Co. scared off her killer and thus they were unable to complete the robbery.

4) A final theory in the case is that Kétie was killed at random as the result of a gang initiation. However, the lack of evidence has made this difficult to prove.

AFTERMATH:

Kétie’s murder destroyed the sense of security her friends and neighbours felt, with some who live in the neighbourhood saying they no longer feel safe.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help raise money for Kétie’s funeral. As it exceeded its goal, her loved ones approached the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and set up a scholarship in her honour, named the Kétie Memory Jones Memorial Arts Award. It’s awarded to an arts student of financial need.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

There is currently a $5,000 reward for information leading to a resolution in the case.

Those with information regarding the murder of Katherine “Kétie” Memory Jones are being asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. Tips can be called in anonymously.

Image Credit: FOX 46 Charlotte

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