March 13, 2023 | By: Alissa Novo
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida, Applied Journalism class.
“As I sit in heaven and watch you every day, I try to show you signs I never go away” — a line from a poem anonymously written to Velma Newmon a few months after the death of her son Roderick Jackson. This poem has become the heart behind keeping her son’s memory alive.
The comfort of feeling looked upon from above by her son brings joy that encourages Velma to keep his memory alive.
Jackson was shot dead in the street along 7th Avenue South in St. Petersburg on March 13, 2019.
Video surveillance shows two men riding bicycles near the crime scene during the time Jackson was killed. The men have not been identified, but authorities and family members hold on to hope that they will be found and one day help to bring justice for Jackson.
The man who was killed that night was a kind soul, his mother says — a man who loved to eat, who loved animals and who, above all, loved his family.
“He was my ‘can you come do this for me’ child,” his mother said. “He would come and help me and do things around the house for me. I have this lightbulb that nobody can reach so matter of fact, the day he died, he came and changed the lightbulb for me.”
Jackson’s children live with their mother and come to visit Velma frequently. Velma’s way of keeping Roderick alive to them is to tell them stories, keep pictures around the house, and remind them each day that he loved them deeply.
Roderick was cremated, and Velma is holding on to his ashes, planning to scatter them during a celebration of his life after an arrest is made. As of today, the case is still open, and authorities are still looking for leads hoping to bring Roderick’s killer to justice.
Roderick’s family celebrates his birthday each year and hosts a vigil in his memory each March 13th.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Roderick Jackson, please call the St. Petersburg Police Department at (727) 893-7780 or text SPPD and the information to TIP411.
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