This year we’ve been tracking the rising number of homicides in Charlotte—so far there have been 47. Today, we take look back at a murder from 2016 that remains unsolved. Twenty-six-year-old Ketie Jones was shot and killed on October 15 when she was walking home after a night out with friends in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood.
With no leads on her case, it’s been a difficult time as her friends and family members reel from the randomness of her murder. Instead of letting that grief consume them, Ketie’s loved ones have come together to create a scholarship at UNC Charlotte in her memory. WFAE’s Sarah Delia sat down with one of Ketie’s best friends, to talk about her life and how he chooses to remember her.
Brendan Coffey and Ketie Jones had the kind of friendship were they could just look at each other and bust out laughing. They’d belt their hearts out on long or short car rides. They spent many nights out in Ketie’s favorite Charlotte neighborhood, Plaza Midwood, where she lived and worked. It's why Coffey picked Common Market in Plaza Midwood as the location to talk about his best friend.
Brendan and Ketie met in a drama class at Providence High School in Charlotte.
"When I met Ketie she was known as squirrel girl in our high school," Coffey says with a smile on his face. "She had found an injured squirrel and brought it into school with her unbeknownst to anyone. She nursed it back to health and released it back into the wild. I thought to myself ‘what an interesting person.’ So I went from the hesitation of squirrel girl to having a good friend very quickly."
There’s still a lot of uncertainty around the day Ketie died. On October 14 she went to work at Midwood Smokehouse and when she got off, grabbed drinks with friends at Midwood Country Club, a bar on Central Avenue. She was shot on her walk home in the early hours of October 15.
The week leading up to her death, Brendan and Ketie had made plans to go Ikea to shop; Brendan had just bought a new home. "On the day that we were supposed to go to Ikea, I went to her funeral."
It’s hard to find anything good when something like this happens. There is one silver lining: The Ketie Memory Jones Arts Award, an endowed scholarship at UNC Charlotte. In the days after her death, her friends raised money through a GoFundMe account to help pay for her final expenses. There was so much money left over, they contacted UNC Charlotte to create an arts scholarship in Ketie’s memory. It takes $25,000 to get a scholarship endowed, they raised over $27,000 and the school says that number will continue to grow.
"I think this scholarship….I think this is what she would have wanted. We could have put this money up as a reward for finding who did this, bringing someone to justice. And I think Ketie’s mother Jevona put it best, that if Ketie would be able to address her killer directly, she would ask how that person could be healed."
Ketie was not a student at UNC Charlotte, but she did attend Marymount Manhattan College for a few semesters where she studied technical theater. She had to stop for financial reasons. Having to leave school was a great source of frustration for her, Brendan says.
"The thought process was, we’d like to give a student in similar circumstances to Ketie an opportunity to both logistically go to school but also feel like they fit in and that they can pursue their interests in arts or theater, what ever they are passionate about," Coffey says.
He finds comfort in the endowed scholarship. But it’s still difficult not knowing who killed his best friend.
He still feels connected to her. He’s started doing this thing where he’ll rearrange his furniture randomly, a habit he picked up from Ketie. And when he spends time with his new puppy that makes him think of her and her love of animals. And when he’s in his car, getting ready to sing one of their favorites he looks over to where she used to sit and sing with a smile on her face. He says it’s times like these where he knows she’s not that far away.