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Family seeks answers in son's Virgin Islands slaying

  • Story Highlights
  • Jamie Cockayne was killed in June after a bar fight on the island of St. John
  • He was in the Caribbean to pursue work at a yacht club
  • One arrest has been made, but Jamie's family says that's not enough
  • Next Article in U.S. »
By Jason Rovou and Randi Kaye
CNN
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ST. JOHN, U.S. Virgin Islands (CNN) -- Jamie Cockayne, a 21-year-old Pennsylvanian, was murdered in the U.S. Virgin Islands in June. He was ambushed, beaten with a two-by-four and stabbed seven times after an altercation at a local bar on the small, normally quiet island of St. John. He died in the street.

Jamie

Jamie Cockayne, 21, went to St. John to pursue a love of sailing, according to his parents.

Since then, Jamie's parents -- Bill and Jeanie Cockayne -- have grown uneasy with the island's law enforcement officials who, they claim, have been slow to act and slow to give them information about the case.

"You're grieving for the loss of your son and then you really have no answers coming. So the combination of the two is almost unbearable. It takes a considerable amount of strength to push forward for answers," Bill said.

The Cockaynes said police had the names of the suspects, including a description and license plate number of the getaway car, for more than six weeks, yet no one was arrested. No one, that is, until Friday, when Kamal "Six- pack" Thomas was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He has not entered a plea.

The Cockaynes and their attorney said they found the timing of this arrest to be suspect because it happened on the very day CNN arrived to tell the story of Jamie's murder. We joined the family on St. Thomas, another of the U.S. Virgin Islands, as they were about to meet face-to-face with police and government officials for the first time. The Cockaynes wanted answers.

"If you have an eyewitness who says they saw those two guys run up the street with a two-by-four and five minutes later someone is lying on the ground dead, it's not rocket science. ... I've asked them, please explain it to me. What is taking you so long?" Jeanie said. Video Jamie's parents question officials' actions »

Police officials maintain they are actively working the investigation and need to make sure the case is firm enough to hold up in court before they make any additional arrests.

"We can have probable cause, but it doesn't necessarily mean we've met our burden of proof. This also has to go to a jury. And once it gets to that jury it has to go without a shadow of a doubt. From day one we've been striving towards that prosecution," said Police Commissioner James McCall.

However, the Cockaynes claimed police hosed down the crime scene before forensic evidence could be taken and that Jamie's baseball hat was thrown away simply because investigators had run out of evidence bags.

Commissioner McCall says the crime scene was washed down, but only after evidence was removed.

The Cockaynes have hired their own private investigator to search for witnesses and piece together the clues. They say they've lost faith that the police are performing their jobs.

According to his parents, Jamie's passion for sailing is what brought him to the Caribbean. In May, after landing a job at a yacht club, Jamie came to the island of St. John to wait for working papers and help his mom, who came with him, find a retirement home.

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"I can remember looking at him in the car and saying, 'Well, another one of Jamie and Jeanie's excellent adventures,'" his mother said.

But their adventure had a less than excellent ending. So now, the family will wait some more, while police continue to seek out "persons of interest." Jamie, his parents said, was a fighter who would have insisted, as they have, that justice be served. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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