Skip to comments.“A man gone crazy”: After attack at sea, one man is dead and another faces life in prison
Posted on 10/29/2018 6:00:57 AM PDT by csvset
A York County-based fishing boat the Captain Billy Haver was 55 miles off the coast of Massachusetts a few weeks ago, dredging scallops from the sea.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, a crew member started attacking his shipmates with a hammer.
The vessels captain radioed the Coast Guard for help at 2 p.m. on an international emergency distress channel.
Mayday, mayday, mayday, he said in a thick accent. Can anybody hear me?
We have a man gone crazy here on the boat, man, the captain continued after hearing a reply. One man, I dont know if hes dead or what. But one of the crew members went crazy, and he started hitting people in the head with a hammer. I got three men thats injured now. One I cant wake him up.
It wasnt clear what spurred the Sept. 23 attack.
One crew member later told investigators he heard yelling, rounded a corner, was struck three times in the back of the head and fell. He looked up from the deck, he said, and saw a fellow crew member, Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez Jr., 27, of Newport News, holding a knife in one hand and a hammer in the other.
The boats chief mate, Javier Rangel Sosa, 54, of Newport News, lay on the deck nearby, blood rushing from his mouth.
Crew members cornered Meave, 27, as he climbed the boats mast with the hammer and knife, before throwing the knife on the deck, according to court documents.
He already cut the antenna or something off, the captain relayed over the radio. That could have been the cause of an initial inability by the captain to hear the Coast Guards responses early in the tense distress call.
A nearby German cruise ship, the Mein Schiff 6, got to the scallop boat first.
Sosa one of the boats most experienced and well-liked crew members was taken lifeless from the vessel he had sailed on countless times, having sustained stab wounds and head injuries.
A cruise ship doctor pronounced him dead.
Meave, a Mexican national who has lived in the United States for 17 years and in Newport News for 10, was arrested by the Coast Guard.
Hes charged with murdering Sosa and attempting to murder another man on the high seas ... within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, according to an affidavit by a Coast Guard special agent filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.
Things could have turned out very differently.
In March, Meave was charged with two felonies in a Newport News domestic violence case that carried the potential for significant prison time. And in April while the domestic case was pending federal immigration officials determined that Meave was in the country illegally and took him into custody.
But neither of those roadblocks proved enough to stop Meave from boarding the fishing boat as it headed out from its dock in the Seaford section of York County. It left in mid-September with a crew of seven to catch scallops off New England. The first arrest +7
Franklin Meave Newport News police
Franklin Meave's Newport News mug shot.
Newport News police responded to a domestic abuse complaint from Meaves wife on March 8.
The 20-year-old said she returned from a girls night out at about 12:30 a.m. to the home on Edsyl Street in Menchville, where the couple lived with Meaves parents.
She said she and Meave were in bed talking about their relationship problems when he snapped. I want you to see reality, she said he told her, before he suddenly climbed on top of her and began to strangle her with both hands, according to a criminal complaint.
The woman told police she couldnt breathe, and believed she blacked out momentarily, before she scratched Meave, causing him to stop choking her. She tried to call her mother, she said, but Meave grabbed both her cell phones and repeatedly pushed her onto the bed.
She said he then wrapped a black and red scarf around her head to get her to stop yelling, while keeping her pinned. He finally got off her, she said, when she bit him in the chest and promised not to leave the home.
When she began walking downstairs, she said, Meave grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back upstairs. She told police she tried to call 911 using a voice-activated feature on her iPhone, but it didnt work. Then Meave climbed back atop her and laughed, she said. Do you hear a voice? he asked. Do you see the devil?
She finally managed to wrest a phone away and texted a friend. She said Meave warned her he made a lot of money as a scallop fisherman and could hire someone to kill her and her family.
But he eventually gave her phone back and allowed her to leave, with her friend picking her up down the street, she said.
Later that day, Newport News police charged Meave with two felonies strangulation and abduction and misdemeanor assault and battery. Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Ronald E. Bensten denied Meave bond as he awaited his future court dates, with a protective order also issued.
Circuit Court Judge Timothy S. Fisher overruled the bond decision on March 30, granting Meaves release under a pretrial program. Granted freedom
But Meave wasnt immediately freed.
On April 2, the Newport News City Jail transferred him to federal custody. The U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had determined that the Mexican national was in the U.S. illegally, and put a detainer on him at the City Jail.
For a few weeks, Meave was held in a detention center in Farmville, west of Richmond. Despite the pending felony charges, an immigration judge granted him bond during an April 25 hearing in Arlington. He was released two days later.
ICE said in a statement that the judge made the decision despite ICEs objections.
Immigration judges are not part of the federal judiciary. Theyre employees of the Justice Department, which declined to release details of Meaves case, including the amount of the bond and the judges name.
But Meaves parents, Lindsay and Shelby McDannold, told the Daily Press the was judge Roxanne C. Hladylowycz, who set bond at $20,000.
According to DOJ policy, immigration judges should be guided by whether the aliens release would pose a danger to property or persons, whether the alien is likely to appear for further immigration proceedings, and whether the alien is a threat to national security.
The Daily Press filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request last week for more information about the case, but has not yet received a response.
I was quite surprised when I found out they had released him, said Robin Farkas, the prosecutor in the Newport News domestic abuse case. I dont know that weve had a case before where ICE had someone, and he was released. Its just not normal, especially in this environment.
By the time Meave came to court for the Newport News case a few weeks later, his wife had told prosecutors she would not testify against him. She said before the May 15 hearing that she wanted Meave to get mental health and substance abuse treatment instead of being jailed, Farkas said.
The prosecutor said Meaves wife also knew a conviction could lead to his removal from the country.
She didnt want to do anything that would hold him or get him deported, Farkas said. Thats something we battle in a lot of cases. They dont want to be abused, but also dont want (deportation) to happen to the people they love.
Meaves mother-in-law, Lindsay McDannold, 39, of Richmond, said he was addicted to heroin. She said Meaves relatives begged her daughter not to testify against him, saying that if he went back to Mexico, He was going to be murdered by the cartels.
It was a huge sob story, McDannold said. She felt bad. She didnt want to be responsible for that. She tries to see the good in people.
Without the wifes testimony, Farkas said, there was no way to move forward with the prosecution.
She and Meaves lawyer, Cathy Krinick, worked out a plea deal.
The two felonies were dropped, while Meave admitted to the misdemeanor assault and agreed to enter a domestic violence prevention program. But he got a deferred disposition, meaning there would be no conviction on his record if he stayed out of trouble for two years. Sosas last trip +7
Crewmate killed on the Captain Billy Haver Stephen M. Katz | Staff Photographer
An aerial look at the Captain Billy Haver, an 83-foot yellow fishing boat docked at Seaford Scallop Co. As seen Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
The Captain Billy Haver an 83-foot fishing boat docks at the Seaford Scallop Co., off Back Creek in York County, on the mouth of the York River.
Built in 1996, the vessel is named after a fishing captain who drowned after going down with his boat 50 miles off Norfolk 18 years ago.
Officials with Seaford Scallop declined to comment on the Sept. 23 slaying, but said they dont own the Captain Billy Haver. Its one of 14 independently owned vessels whose catch they buy.
Juan Araiza, of Virginia Beach, the president of the company that owns the boat, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The victims son, Javier Sosa Jr., 33, said the vessel left the Seaford dock about Sept. 18, headed for the New England coast. He said the elder Sosa was chief mate for the trip, and had been at the wheel just before the attack, southeast of Massachusetts Nantucket Island.
Another crew member told the family that Meave snapped while the fishermen were performing a mundane task: moving dredged scallops from the deck to a freezer called the ice hold.
Javier Sosa Jr. said his brother knew Meave at Newport News Warwick High School. The elder Sosa had told his family that Meave caused trouble on prior trips and that he wasnt getting along wither other crewmates.
But Sosa Jr. said good local scallopers are hard to come by these days, with many having moved to find work in New England. +7
Javier Sosa and dog Pepe Courtesy of Javier Sosa Jr.
Javier Sosa with his dog, Pepe.
Javier Rangel Sosa lived with his wife, Graciela, in a well-kept mobile home on Onancock Trail. Thats off Jefferson Avenue in Denbigh, south of the Newport News airport.
He grew up the youngest of 11 children in Mexico and had been on fishing boats since age 12, often sailing from Texas, his son said. He was a boat captain by 16.
Sosas son said he moved to Virginia decades ago and became a U.S. citizen about 10 years ago. He and his wife raised their sons here: Javier Jr., now a fisherman in New Bedford, Mass.; and Jonathan, who works at a Texas car dealership.
The couple planned to retire in a few years to Mexico, where Sosa owned a house and a laundry business.
He loved his small dog, Pepe, and was a people person, his son said. He tried to make people smile. If he went up to the cash register, he would try to make (the cashier) laugh and smile. If he sees someone, he would talk, he would say hi. I wish I had that trait.
An official at Seafood Scallop who has known Sosa for 25 years described him as hard-working and well-liked on the companys docks. Hes a real good man, a really good family man, he said.
The victims nephew, 27-year-old Jesus Sosa who lives in Mexico but stayed with the Sosas in Virginia for six months this year said his uncles place in the family is legendary. +7
Javier Sosa Courtesy of Javier Sosa Jr.
Javier Sosa, a 54-year-old longtime fisherman from Newport News, was killed at sea Sept. 23. A fellow crewman has been charged with murder.
Hes the greatest fisherman in Virginia, for real, Jesus Sosa said. In my family, everybody wants to be just like him. He always helped everybody, was good to everybody. Im so proud of him. He showed me everything.
A neighbor, Ricky Travis, 48, said that during snowstorms, he and Sosa would shovel out parts of the street. During one big hurricane, Travis said, Sosa drove to North Carolina and bought a generator, hooking it up for five neighbors so long as they helped pay for gas.
The front of Sosas trailer, near his black late-model Chevy pickup truck, is lined with hundreds of large rocks dredged from the sea. He planted an apple tree near the trailer, and just completed a new wooden door landing. Sosa and Travis would often talk on Sosas porch, Sosa always in his favorite chair.
That was my dude, that was my friend, Travis said. If you needed something, he would do what he could do to help you out. Thats the kind of dude he was. Shock and regrets
Meave, now locked up in the Boston area, couldnt be reached for comment for this story. His lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Stylianus Sinnus, did not return a call. A trial date has not yet been set, but Meave faces life in prison on the charges.
A man who answered the door on the familys home on Edsyl Street identified himself as Meaves father. I dont really know what happened, he said, before a woman came to the door and told a Daily Press reporter to leave.
A neighbor, Donald Gilman, 23, called Meave a quiet but good guy, saying he wouldnt have expected this in a million years.
He kept to himself, but every time we talked, he was friendly as could be, Gilman said. Im hoping its all a huge mistake and it wasnt him.
Meaves wifes parents, Lindsay and Shelby McDannold, said their daughter met Meave through friends and married him in June 2017. He was very nice to her at first and made her a lot of promises, Lindsay McDannold said.
But their daughter regrets not having her husband prosecuted in the domestic abuse case, they said. She thought the possible deportation would be a wake-up call for him to change his ways.
She really didnt think he was capable of murder until it happened, McDannold said. She instead wanted him to do the drug screening and stay out of trouble and reform his life.
She deeply regrets dropping the charges, and deeply regrets ever meeting him, Shelby McDannold added.
The McDannolds say they dont understand why the immigration judge released Meave on bond.
Aside from the immigration hold and the then-pending felony abuse charges, court paperwork says that Meave had a misdemeanor shoplifting conviction in Hampton in 2015 reduced in a plea agreement from a felony larceny. He also had pending drug charges in New Jersey and past dropped drug charges in Newport News.
They knew about the felony charges and the drug charges, and they still let him out, Lindsay McDannold said. It could have been my daughter that he did this to. ICE was objecting left, right and center. But the system failed long before that. There were so many opportunities to stop it.
Its messed up, Javier Sosa Jr. said.
Circuit Court Judge Timothy S. Fisher overruled the bond decision on March 30, granting Meaves release under a pretrial program.
Immigration Judge Roxanne C. Hladylowycz, despite the pending felony charges, granted him bond during an April 25 hearing in Arlington. He was released two days later.
ICE said in a statement that the judge made the decision despite ICEs objections.
Pics at source too lazy to post.
When are the authorities going to start punishing people who hire illegals?
Headline should be “Another illegal beats wife, kills an American and steals American jobs because our immigration laws are not enforced.”
I have serious doubts that this is adjudicated to the satisfaction of most of us on FR. Bungled from the start and it’s only going to get worse. The deadly attack at sea sounds like bad drugs and his lawyer will grab that for a plea of temporary insanity rather than the hanging from the yardarm he so richly deserves.
I’ve seen the Coast Guard on the Staten Island Ferry a couple of times packing M-16s...so I assume they’ve qualified on them.My late BIL told me that he qualified with a pistol at Great Lakes in ‘69.
When will judges be held accountable for bad decisions??
Now, now, he’s just a poor guy wanting a job to provide for his family.
The $64,000 question.
Never by the "justice" system. Professional courtesy and all that...
There are other methods- can sitting judges be sued for wrongful death- if not following Federal law?
not a lawyer
Me neither, what lawyer, who might later have cases before that judge, would handle the suit?
Know any lawyers with big brass cajones?
You have to understand that in the CG and the Navy, “qualifying with a pistol” is along the lines of, “You hit the paper? Geez! The first one today!”
Why didn’t the captain have a weapon?
Theres a sea chanty here somewhere with no disrespect intended.
“Immigration judges are not part of the federal judiciary. Theyre employees of the Justice Department, which declined to release details of Meaves case, including the amount of the bond and the judges name.”
Sounds like whenever we get a new, unrecused, attorney general, they should be looking into these immigration judges to see which of them need to be replaced.
A judge that makes a fatal mistake, that is, ( releases a criminal who then goes on to kill ),should be removed from the bench.
As you can probably guess I don't know much about the Navy...or Coast Guard...whereas you,a Marine,would at least know the Navy.
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