Four years after the triple murder of a young family shot and burnt to death just days before Christmas in Jacksonville, Florida, the community has not recovered.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is still searching for answers and, to date, has not made an arrest.
On Dec. 12, 2017, firefighters responded to a Christmas tree fire at a Woodland Acres residence, located on Indian Avenue, around 10:30 p.m. The bodies of Quasean Trotter, 20, and Ariyan Johnson, 19, and their baby, Arielle, were discovered in their home.
During the initial inspection of the home, firefighters discovered the bodies of Trotter and Johnson. The couple was shot next to their 11-month-old baby, who died of smoke inhalation from the fire. Homicide detectives were called to the scene and discovered there was no forced entry, which means that the couple most likely knew the killer.
Family members grew frustrated and bewildered about the nature of the triple homicide. The lack of suspects or witnesses was a major concern. Johnson’s grandfather, Mario Peterson, spoke to various media and said:
“They are totally exhausted and worn out, wanting answers and everything. It’s not closure. It’s more bringing attention to this whole situation and giving light to three lives that were lost. It’s also to get the community involved. There’s someone who had to see something.”
Peterson made the statement outside of the family’s residence with Johnson’s Great-Aunt, Venessa Hampton, who had consoled family members during the vigil for the family.
"We're going trust in God and we're going to believe in JSO. Whomever is out there. You know what you did. And you know JSO is coming. So when JSO comes, don't be surprised," Hampton said to First Coast News.
The family contacted U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) for political assistance to allow Johnson’s father to attend the funeral of his daughter and granddaughter. At the time, Johnson’s father was incarcerated in the Florida panhandle.
Lawson offered the family his prayers and expressed his confidence in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to bring those responsible for the murders to justice. He also informed the family that his office is actively extending help wherever possible.
Family members described Johnson as an upcoming entrepreneur who ran an online boutique. The couple attended Terry Parker High School, where Trotter played football for the Braves. They dated for a few years and seemed to be headed towards a bright future.
"Everybody loved them. Their relationship was something you could look up to because they were young and mature in their situation," said Toussaint Stringfield, Johnson's cousin told News 4Jax.
The Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information about the triple homicide to call (904) 630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. Also, Crime Stoppers offered a reward of $3,000. To remain anonymous and receive the reward, contact (866) 845-TIPS.