By Michelle Hunter
A Harvey man shot and killed the owner of a dirt bike that had been listed for sale on Facebook’s Marketplace after the two arranged to meet up at a West Bank apartment complex Sunday morning, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Jalen Harvey, 20, then allegedly drove the victim’s sport utility vehicle to New Orleans’ Garden District neighborhood where he abandoned the SUV, with the victim’s body inside. The vehicle and the body of Joseph Vindel, 29, of New Orleans, were found early Monday, authorities said.
Harvey was arrested Monday and booked with first-degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said during a news conference.
“It’s a $2,800 dirt bike. It’s not anything anybody should be shot over,” Lopinto said.
Vindel disappeared Sunday after relatives say he left his home around 10 a.m. headed to Harvey to meet a potential buyer for his red Honda dirt bike. Vindel went to the St. Germaine Apartments in the 2100 block of Manhattan Boulevard to meet Jalen Harvey, according to Lopinto.
“Mr. Vindel never returned from that transaction,” he said.
Shortly after arriving at the complex, Harvey allegedly shot Vindel as he sat in his SUV. Harvey then drove the vehicle, with the dirt bike towed behind it on a trailer, to the 2300 block of Coliseum Street in New Orleans.
Harvey used Vindel’s dirt bike to get back to his apartment complex, according to Lopinto.
Vindel’s body wasn’t discovered until about 5:45 a.m. Monday. He had been shot multiple times, Lopinto said.
Unaware he had been killed, Vindel’s concerned family contacted the New Orleans Police Department Sunday evening to make a missing person report, according to authorities. The investigation eventually led to Jefferson Parish.
The Sheriff’s Office, NOPD and State Police tracked Vindel’s movements and discovered messages going back and forth between Vindel and Harvey, Lopinto said.
Deputies who went to Harvey’s apartment complex spotted Vindel’s dirt bike parked on a patio there.
“They made contact with Mr. Jalen Harvey,” Lopinto said. “During questioning, Harvey admitted to shooting Mr. Vindel.”
Vindel was a Realtor who attended Tulane University from 2011 to 2015, studying public relations and marketing, according to his Linkedin profile.
Friends and family members who gathered at the Metairie home of Vindel’s mother Monday afternoon weren’t ready to talk about his death. But one man called Vindel a “great guy” whose killing was an unprovoked, “cold-blooded murder.”
The homicide marks the second time in three weeks that someone was shot in Harvey during a meeting involving an online marketplace sale, according to authorities.
On Feb. 19, a 21-year-old man was shot in the leg and robbed when he met up with a person who had advertised the sale of a 2009 Jaguar XF on the app Offer Up, the Sheriff’s Office said. The victim met the seller/robber mid-day in the parking lot of an office building in the 2100 block of the lower West Bank Expressway.
Sheriff’s Office detectives on Friday arrested Romalis Hester, 26 of Harvey, and booked him with armed robbery, aggravated second-degree battery, simple kidnapping and other charges in the case, jail records said.
Unfortunately, Vindel isn’t the first person to be killed in Jefferson Parish while reportedly trying to buy or sell property, online.
David Peraza Mancia, 41, was fatally shot on Nov. 3, 2019, by two men during a test drive of a Chevrolet Camaro that Mancia had advertised on the internet, the Sheriff’s Office said. Herman Raney, 23, and La’Shon Brown, 21, both of Baton Rouge, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice in Mancia’s death.
According to Lopinto, the Sheriff’s Office has handled six thefts, robberies or simple robberies related to online marketplace apps in the last year. That’s compared to the thousands of transactions that go on using the technology, he said.
“If it doesn’t feel right, get out,” Lopinto said.