Unknown Joshua Woodruff Killer- Louisiana- 2016 Nov 21, 2016 2:58:11 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Nov 21, 2016 2:58:11 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: New Orleans Crime Stoppers)
In the midst of ringing the New Year with friends in New Orleans' French Quarter, Joshua Woodruff took pause from his vacation to text his family members he loved them. It was the last communication his sister, Heather Grizzle would have with him, she said.
Woodruff, an Omaha native who lived in Los Angeles, Calif., was killed a few hours later in a hit-and-run described by New Orleans Police Department Traffic Division Commander Lt. Anthony Micheu described as "horrific."
"The timing was providential," Grizzle said Tuesday of the message Woodruff sent to their sibling text chain. But the sentiment from her brother, she added, was typical of Woodruff.
"He never held back from expressing his love for people," she said.
Around 3:15 a.m. Friday, New Orleans police received a report about a hit-and-run involving a pedestrian, who Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse this week identified as Woodruff. Witnesses told police the vehicle struck him near Dumaine and Decatur streets, then turned onto Madison Street before traveling against traffic on Chartres Street and disappearing.
Police confirmed Woodruff was waiting for an Uber ride he'd ordered on his cell phone when a black four-door sedan with tinted windows struck him in the crosswalk.
About 30 minutes later, at 3:45 a.m., authorities received reports of a body on the Westbank Expressway. Micheu said police soon determined the remains belonged to the victim in the earlier French Quarter hit-and-run. Police believe Woodruff was dragged there beneath the car, across the Crescent City connection, up to six miles.
The phone from which Woodruff punched out his last text to his siblings and from which he'd ordered an Uber ride remained on the ground in the intersection where he was struck. Micheu said a bystander picked it up and called a friend with whom Woodruff celebrated in the New Year. The friend contacted Woodruff's older brother, Benjamin Woodruff, 30, and the family started piecing together what happened.
Sister 'grateful' for final messages
The last message Woodruff sent to Grizzle, 34, and her brother Benjamin, told them "how much he loved us," she said, and how he much his time with them over the Christmas holidays in Omaha meant to him.
"We are so grateful we have those last communications," said Grizzle.
It wasn't just his family who received messages of love from Woodruff before he was killed, she said. Grizzle said several of Woodruff's friends told her they received similar text messages as the midnight approached, and afterward.
"He left no relational regret," she said.
Woodruff had a way of making people feel like they were the only person in the room, his sister said. The messages of condolences and memories pouring in from his friends that the family continues to receive, she said, "are an incredible reflection of who he was."
Woodruff graduated from Harvard University in 2011, where he studied music. He was living most recently in Los Angeles and worked for the startup company Soylent. Between college and his move to L.A. in early 2015, he lived in San Francisco.
Grizzle said her younger brother was a fan of many genres, including jazz, blues, or whatever those around him wanted to hear, she said.
Her brother was excited because his trip to New Orleans would be his first visit to the city, Grizzle said. His close friends have siblings who live in New Orleans, and they looked forward to the visit to enjoy "family, food and fun for the New Year," she said.
A Facebook group set up to share memories of Woodruff has collected more than 1,000 members, with posts stretching for several pages. Grizzle said those who loved her brother will remember a man who loved traveling, music festivals, snowboarding and was an avid exerciser. A piano player, he often sat down at the instrument and took requests.
Family hopes for justice
Over the holidays in Omaha, Grizzle said Woodruff had a chance to see his friends from high school with whom he was close, meet some of their new babies, attend a college friend's wedding and spend time with his immediate family and grandparents.
"The thing about Josh is he used every moment to connect with people deeply, but in a really fun way at the same time," she said.
Grizzle spoke clearly about her brother, saying the faith in God she and her other family members share with Woodruff has given them comfort to cope.
"He's in the loving arms of his heavenly father, we have zero doubt," she said. "There's no crying in there, there's no pain."
Grizzle said she hoped whoever drove the car that caused her brother's death would be brought to justice.
"It's not because justice will bring Josh back, but we don't want any other family to suffer the way we have," she said.
Police reviewing surveillance videos
Micheu said police have reviewed approximately 50 videos taken from surveillance cameras that may have captured the car's path and obtained copies of 11 videos. None of the images, at this point, have revealed additional identifying information about the car, including model and make, a license plate number, or the state where the plate was issued, he said. NOPD's digital forensics team continues to review the videos to gather additional information, he said.
NOPD has been in contact with body shops, asking them to contact police if they encounter a black sedan with car damage, which Micheu said police believe was minimal. Additionally, police have reached out to dealerships to help them identify the model and make of the car. Louisiana State Police have offered to help investigate, he said.
Micheu asked anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers or the department. The driver who struck and dragged Woodruff may feel "scared," and "confused," but Micheu encouraged that person to come forward.
Woodruff is survived by Grizzle and husband Benjamin Grizzle, his brother Benjamin Woodruff and wife Andrea, all of New York City; and his parents, Mark and Caren Woodruff, of Omaha.
Anyone with information is asked to call NOPD's traffic division at 504-658-6215 or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.
New Orleans Crime Stoppers link: www.crimestoppersgno.org/cases/open-cases/joshua-woodruff.html
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