Father of New Orleans realtor murdered over dirt bike says killer’s punishment doesn’t fit crime

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The West Bank man who lured a New Orleans real estate agent to his home, promising to buy a dirt bike, before killing him, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Thursday, a judge sentenced Jalen Harvey to life in prison for the murder of 29-year-old Joseph Vindel.

Vindel’s heartbroken father says the punishment will never fit the crime.

“I miss Joe terribly, as does his mother and his friends,” Lindsey Vindel said.

Vindel says every day without his only son and best friend is a struggle.

“I kick myself for not being there. I blame myself for not being there, not going with him. I would’ve taken a bullet for my son,” Vindel stated.

In March of last year, investigators say Harvey responded to an ad that 29-year-old Joseph Vindel placed on an online marketplace app, selling his dirt bike. Vindel drove to Harvey’s West Bank apartment complex, where authorities say Harvey tried to pay with fake cash, then shot and killed Vindel in his vehicle.

Last month, Harvey was found guilty of first-degree murder. Thursday, a Jefferson Parish judge sentenced him to life in prison. He will serve his sentence in Angola.

“Some justice comes as a result but it doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t make it even at all,” Lindsey Vindel said of the sentence. “It’s not a life for a life. Joe lost his life and this guy gets to keep living, gets to keep sucking up air. His parents get to call him on the phone, get to get a letter from him. I’d do anything to get a letter from my son, get a phone call from him.”

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the New Orleans Police Department have designed safe exchange zones in honor of Vindel. They’re set up in front of police stations as a place where people can meet buyers and sellers from internet app sales. Vindel’s dad also suggests getting a picture of a valid I.D. before meeting someone and making sure they have a working email address.

“Connecting your texts to an email, to a computer, is something that’s easily done then there’s a verifiable trail of what’s happening,” Lindsey Vindel explained.

While he works to prevent others from becoming a victim, Vindel says most days he’s alone with his thoughts.

“His face was going to be the last one I saw, I hoped, before I went to the other side and now, God only knows how that’s going to turn out,” Vindel says.

Now, he faces a future without Joseph; a future that looked so bright for the young man, an aspiring real estate agent and chef, planning to be married, with the world at his fingertips.

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