Mother of shooting victim holds annual remembrance

STEUBENVILLE – Kelly Schoonover stood in front of the Kendall Avenue house Tuesday afternoon where her son Joshua died seven years ago.

She has stood on the sidewalk at 733 Kendall Ave. every year to remember the son who was shot and killed in the early morning hours of Jan. 21, 2007

It hasn’t gotten any easier for Kelly.

“Seven years and still no answers. And every year as this date approaches I get anxious about returning to Steubenville and standing here where Joshua died.” Kelly told the 15 people who gathered on a bitter cold Tuesday afternoon for the annual candlelight vigil.

The cold wind made it impossible to light the candles so the group released balloons into the brisk wind.

“Seven years and I still see his smile and hear his voice. But I still have the same questions and still seek justice for Joshua,” Kelly said.

Schoonover died on the front porch of the Kendall Avenue house following a still unsolved shooting.

“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,” recalled Kelly.

“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,” said Kelly.

“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.

“My son’s fiancee called that morning to tell me something had happened and I should go to the hospital. I called the police station and they told me to call Trinity West. I went straight to the hospital that morning with two of my daughters and the nurse told me to just wait for information,” recalled Kelly.

“I was getting frustrated waiting there and the next thing I knew a priest and a security guard came up to me and asked us to go to the quiet room. I didn’t even know what that was until we went there,” she explained.

“Josh and I had a very special bond. He was like a big brother and also a father to his three sisters. They all miss him so very much, but my youngest still has issues with what happened to her brother,” said Kelly.

“Josh never met a stranger. He knew everyone and was always willing to help people. He was into sports big time. He tried out in just about every sport but ended up playing football at Big Red. Football was his thing,” noted Kelly

“But what really hurts is knowing his three children will grow up without a father. Someone took away my son and the father of my grandchildren,” she stated.

“I still miss my brother very much,” said Kendell Schoonover. “I wish he was still here with us but I also know we will see each other in heaven someday.”

“I want to thank everyone for joining us today. I see the same faces every year but having you here has kept me sane. I also miss my brother very much,” added Nikita Schoonover.

Kim Taylor held her son, Joshua Schoonover Jr., close to her side during the afternoon vigil.

“We think about Joshua every day. And I know he is looking down from heaven and seeing his son grow up. I lost my dad last year but I always told him that when he saw Joshua to give him a big hug. I know my dad and Josh are up there right now swapping stories about how I am raising our son,” related Taylor.

According to City Police, the case is still an open investigation.

“So far we have talked to 57 witnesses about this case,” said police Chief William McCafferty. “This is the only unsolved murder that has occurred since I became chief and I want to see it solved.

“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. Our detectives have re-interviewed the witnesses who were in the area that morning. And we are going to continue interviewing those people and hope something new comes to light. 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. We won’t tolerate this happening to our citizens,” McCafferty stated.

“Sooner or later, someone will talk about the murder and I believe someone will come forward. When Spanky Wade was murdered several years ago we faced the same problem of no one talking. Spanky Wade’s father used to come to my office on a regular basis asking us to find the murderer of his son. And we finally got a break and someone talked. We need someone to talk to us in the Joshua Schoonover case,” McCafferty noted.

Following the vigil Kelly and her daughters visited Union Cemetery for a few private moments at the grave of the son and brother they still mourn.