NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A father copes with the unimaginable loss of a son.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that night, and my last exchanges with him. It doesn’t seem real,” says Lindsey Vindel.
29-year-old Joseph Vindel was gunned down, trying to sell his motorbike on the Facebook Marketplace app.
“Joseph was born on Christmas Eve which made him unique from the start. That uniqueness extended to his personality. He was very much outgoing, friendly and happy from the get go,” says Vindel.
Joseph was a cook at several different restaurants, but eventually wanted to pursue a career in real estate.
“He got his license, and right from the bat, it was something he really enjoyed. He had a natural sales ability,” says Vindel.
Joseph became busy with listings and his life with his girlfriend, Katie. Still, he stayed close to his father, Lindsey Vindel.
“Joe and I usually had dinner, at least one night out of the weekend,” says Vindel.
On Saturday, the night before he was killed, Lindsey and Joseph had their usual steak dinner. That night, though, would be their last together.
“I was fortunate to be able to see him that night for sure. When he left, he was in a good mood. I got to kiss him, and tell him I loved him. I’m not sure I could get through any day right now without having that time to have seen him,” say Vindel.
Lindsey says that night, Joseph told him he was selling his motorbike to a man the next day. They talked about it, and Lindsey says he doesn’t remember Joseph expressing any reservations about the sale.
“Not unusual for Joe, Joe was fearless. He physically was a strong guy, able and fierce. He really didn’t have any fears about anything,” says Vindel.
On Sunday, Joseph loaded up the motorbike on the back of his black Lexus SUV and headed to Harvey where he agreed to meet the buyer. He ended up at the St. Germaine apartment complex on Manhattan Boulevard.
“I texted him sometime later, asking him if he had sold the bike. He texted back that he was waiting for the fellow, and that was his last communication with me,” says Vindel.
“Mr. Vindel never returned from that transaction. His family continued to look for him at that point in time,” says Sheriff Joseph Lopinto.
As the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated, they located Jalen Harvey.
“Our deputies went to that location and we were able to find the dirt bike on the patio of one of the apartments. At that point in time, we made contact with Mr. Harvey,” says Sheriff Lopinto.
Lopinto says Harvey admitted to shooting Vindel multiple times inside of his SUV, in the parking lot of the apartment complex.
Then, the Sheriff says Harvey drove Vindel’s SUV, with his body inside, about nine miles to New Orleans in the Garden District on Coliseum Street. Once there, investigators say Harvey took the dirt bike off the back of the SUV and drove it back to his apartment on the Westbank.
“It seems like the intent was there the whole time to do what he did,” says Vindel.
Lindsey says it hurts to know they desperately looked for Joseph for 18 hours before anyone knew what happened to him.
“That was the beginning of what has been the hardest time in my life and Joseph’s family’s life. The whole thing is terrible,” says Vindel.
The story of what happened to Joseph, gained national attention, and Lindsey says people from around the country started reaching out. He says many told him, they would do nice things for others in Joseph’s honor.
“Just simple things, pay for someone’s gas or help an elderly person buy groceries. Those kinds of generous acts in hope that it helped. It won’t bring my son back, but if it changes things and makes life better, if it prevents this sort of thing from happening again, that’s certainly meaningful,” says Vindel.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the New Orleans Police Department now have designated exchange zones in honor of Joseph. They’re set up in front of police stations, a place where people can meet buyers and sellers from internet app sales. Lindsey say nothing can bring his son back, but he wants others to take notice of how easily this could happen.
“Consider family values important. Consider our freedom as important. We need to get involved to prevent these things from happening, whatever it takes,” says Vindel.
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