WARREN - More than 100 friends and family gathered Monday evening near the home of murder victim Jamaul Jones to remember his life.
They described him as an honest, loyal, generous, hardworking man.
"He had so many friends and family who loved him," said Joe Murray Jr., Jones' father. "He was a good kid, outgoing and everybody liked him. He'd do whatever he could for you. He didn't deserve this. No one deserves to die like this."
The former Warren man and Bazetta resident was fatally shot last week and left in a Dover Avenue S.W. field. Jones' family had been searching for him for several days before his body turned up in Warren Township.
Police said Jones, also known as Jumaul Jones, had a meeting at Meadowbrook Avenue S.E. the day he disappeared, and officers now are saying the murder of the 28-year-old Burton Street S.E. man may have been drug-related. Court and police records show Jones had been arrested several times for possessing a large amount of drugs in the last seven years and was facing second-degree felony charges in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for crack cocaine possession when he was killed.
On Monday, Warren police Sgt. Jeff Cole, who is working with Warren Township police Lt. Don Bishop on the joint investigation, said investigators believe Jones' murder to be "drug related and possibly robbery related."
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Family and friends of murder victim Jamaul Jones release balloons Monday in his memory during a candlelight vigil outside his business, Da Wash car wash, along Niles Road in Warren.
Cole said they still are trying to determine exactly what happened. He said Jones had a meeting at 1322 Meadowbrook Ave. S.E. the day he went missing. He was last seen alive there.
Jones' family had said he was forced into a vehicle by a masked man at that address on July 8. A Dover Avenue S.E. woman's dog wandered into the field where Jones' body was dumped Wednesday.
The Trumbull County coroner on Monday ruled the death a homicide and that Jones died from multiple gunshot wounds. Jones had at least one gunshot in each of his legs, police had said.
Bishop on Monday asked for the public's help in finding Jones' vehicle, a blue Buick Rendezvous, that was reported stolen from Bazetta. Investigators on Monday continued to try and determine several details, including where the murder took place.
"The vehicle is very important," Bishop said. "It was his last known location. Whomever has the vehicle could be the suspects or it could be at the crime scene. We just want to find it to give us some leads."
At the vigil, the group of more than 100 people walked several blocks along Niles Road north from the corner of Burton Avenue S.E. to Jones' business, Da Wash, a car wash Jones had opened, also along Niles Road. At the car wash, the group shared a moment of silence for Jones and other murder victims, lit candles and released balloons in his memory.
A memorial with candles, stuffed animals and other items was created along the front fence of his business.
"We just want everyone, the city of Warren, we want people to know we care and we want justice and we want to see this resolved," said Jones' stepmother, Sheauntie Murray.
The family declined to talk about specifics of the case. However, Murray Jr. said the family became increasing concerned when Jones did not return phone calls, especially one from his fiancee regarding her concerns about their child's health.
"We know the police in Warren and Warren Township are working together and they're trying to solve this," Joe Murray Jr. said.
Still, some community members in attendance said they left with too many unanswered questions.
"It's hard because we just don't know," said his cousin, Natarra Lewis. "We don't know who did this or why. It leaves so many things unresolved. We need answers."
At the time of his death, Jones was out on a $25,000 bond after being indicted on a second-degree felony crack possession charge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Reports said officers pulled Jones over for a traffic violation Dec. 27 at the corner of Palmyra Road and Austin Avenue S.W. Officers reported smelling marijuana in the car and called for a K-9 officer. Reports said officers found a large bag of crack, a smaller bag of the drug, a bag of marijuana and $640 in Jones' pockets.
It was the second time Jones faced drug possession charges.
He was sentenced to serve two years in prison in 2005 after he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession with a sentencing enhancement for having a gun during the crime. He also was ordered to forfeit $360 believed to have been part of the crime. A carrying a concealed weapons charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, records said.
Jones also was implicated in an assault in 2011 and was convicted in 2003 for his role in a large fight on the northwest side, records said.
Tribune Chronicle reporter Virginia Shank contributed to this report.