Who killed Jeremey Joyner? Family holds vigil 5 years after Bradenton man went missing
It’s been five years since Jeremey Joyner’s family first started looking for answers after he went missing and was later found dead.
When they didn’t get them, they came together at Riverwalk in Bradenton for a candlelight vigil in 2019 donning shirts that read “Justice for Jeremey, please bring Jeremey home!”
Five years later, and the family is still looking for answers and still holding vigils.
Jeremey Allen Joyner went missing on May 25, 2018, at age 36 after failing to show up to take a family member to a doctor’s appointment.
Three weeks later, his vehicle, a white Jaguar, was found in a parking lot in the 600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. His personal items were still inside, according to the sheriff’s office.
At the time, investigators believed this to be suspicious but had no evidence of foul play.
On Halloween 2018, a man looking for bamboo sticks in a field found the remains of Joyner’s body off 16th Avenue East and 61st Street East in Palmetto.
Investigators estimated the body had been out in the field for at least a few months.
The first vigil had come and gone by the time a DNA test confirmed the body was Joyner’s. It was no longer a missing persons case. Detectives began investigating it as a homicide.
The news, which was what the family had feared all along, came as a mixture of heartache and relief, they said.
His family is still looking for their answers, and justice.
And they want the community’s help.
While the “Justice for Jeremey” shirts are now a little more faded, their message still rings true.
On Saturday, near the fifth anniversary of his death, they again planned to hold a candlelight vigil to raise awareness, gather support, and most of all, to call upon the community for answers that have shifted from “where is Jeremey Joyner” to “who killed Jeremey Joyner? And why?”
“The idea is for everyone to come together — friends, family or anyone who may want to pay their respects,” said De’Janee Joyner, his niece. “My uncle’s life was lost, but there are others out there who are facing the same thing and have lost someone they love to a violent crime.
“This is really just a plea on behalf of our family to get some answers because we know they’re out there.”
De’Janee Joyner said Jeremy was a father figure to her, and she described him as a “jokester” and “a true Manatee County man.” She said she will keep fighting to find out what happened because she knows he would do the same for her.
“If I was having a bad day, I could always call my uncle,” she said. “He believed in me so much, more than I even believed in myself. That’s love.”
The Joyners have had to endure a lot of heartbreak over the years, and it has taken its toll on the family. Jeremey Joyner’s older brother, Dariel Joyner, died in 2005 when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit him near the intersection of 28th Avenue East and Fifth Street East in Bradenton. Jeremey Joyner, who was riding with him that day on a separate motorcycle, was left with scars on his arms, legs and foot.
The drunk driver, Javier Armando Martinez-Irias, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the related driving under the influence charges.
Leverne Joyner, mother of Jeremey and Dariel Joyner, died in 2020 without knowing who killed her son.
But De’Janee Joyner is still hopeful that the community her uncle loved will help uncover the mystery which has haunted her family for half a decade.
“I honestly believe that things will come to light eventually. Praying it doesn’t take another five-plus years, but either way justice will prevail in my uncle’s case. He was and is loved too much for justice to not prevail for him,” she said.
She, much like Leverne Joyner did before her passing, believes there’s a possibility Jeremey Joyner’s murder could have been committed by someone he knew.
They planned to keep the vigil simple Saturday, setting up a table with some pictures and candles while letting people come up and share their experiences with gospel music in the background. Then the planned to release 42 Chinese lanterns into the sky, which is how old he would be if he were still alive today.
Randy Warren, public information officer for Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, emphasized that the case is not closed. They, like the Joyners, are calling on the community for help.
“We consider it a cold case homicide and are seeking any information that will help us find the person or persons responsible for his death. There have been no new leads and it remains a mystery as to who killed him and why,” he said.
“We are confident Jeremey was murdered. We are also very confident that someone in our community knows what happened to him. We hope talking about this case again will encourage people to share any details they may have previously withheld from investigators. Jeremey’s family deserves closure.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Gold Star Club of Manatee County is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Call 941 747-3011, or to remain anonymous, contact Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 866 634-8477 or online at manateecrimestoppers.com.