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LARGO — A crime was committed, a suspect was arrested, but a question remained: Why?
Why would a 13-year-old kill his grandmother, a hardworking mail carrier who, by many accounts, adored all her grandchildren? Why would a teen with no criminal record or history of discipline at school turn to such violence?
“I was baffled,” said neighbor Nicole Dandy, whose nieces and nephews hung out with the woman so often they called her “grandma.” “Never in my wildest dreams ... It was a blow to my heart.”
A court appearance and documents released Tuesday provided few answers to these questions. But they did shed light on how police identified Javarick Henderson Jr. as their suspect in the death of his paternal grandmother, 56-year-old Gloria Davis.
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Javarick and his half-brother were staying overnight Sunday with their grandmother in her home at 634 60th Ave. S. The teen’s arrest report, released Tuesday, lists a Clearwater address for him and police said he attended Dunedin Highland Middle School.
Early Monday morning, according to the report, the teen’s 12-year-old half-brother, asleep in another room, heard screaming and loud noises coming from the kitchen area.
Javarick was found covered in blood with cuts on his hands and red marks on his body, his arrest report says. He then told his half-brother that he “did something bad and not to call 911 ... because he needed time to think," a detective wrote in the report.
Someone did call 911, and police responded to the home about about 3:40 a.m. Officers found Davis in the kitchen area with a number of stab wounds. The alarm system had not been triggered.
On Monday afternoon, police Chief Tony Holloway announced that detectives had arrested Javarick on a charge of second-degree murder, based on evidence at the scene and an interview with his half-brother. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office will decide whether to charge the teen as an adult.
During a first-appearance hearing Tuesday morning, the boy was led by bailiffs into a Pinellas courtroom wearing a green T-shirt and black sweatpants. Bandages were wrapped around his right hand. A woman who identified herself as his mother sat in the front row.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Patrice Moore appointed a public defender, then said that Javarick would stay in juvenile detention until Dec. 16 unless a judge is able to see him earlier.
His mother, who declined to identify herself, broke down in tears and left the courtroom. A woman accompanying her stayed behind and addressed Javarick, who leaned forward with his head hung over his hands.
“We love you baby. We’ll be seeing you," said the woman, who declined to identify herself.
His mother could be heard sobbing from outside the courtroom.
“Oh, my son," she said. “Oh, my son.”
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Later Tuesday, at Davis’ sea-foam green, one-story home, an SUV carrying family members pulled into the driveway. They declined to talk to a reporter, saying they couldn’t while the family is navigating two tragedies. A man who answered the door at an address listed as the home of Javarick’s father declined to comment.
A woman from the Pinellas Point area drove slowly by the house, wanting to see it for herself. Davis was the U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in her neighborhood for years, said the woman, Jenn Stratton. Davis was friendly, always in good spirits and dependable. Stratton once had her over to her house for a get together.
“I wish I were more like her,” said Stratton, 81.
Neighbors said they were struggling with the death of Davis, a part of their community for almost 25 years. Many used to see Davis outside with her grandchildren while they rode or shot hoops at the goal Davis used to keep in her driveway.
She was always willing to host kids from the neighborhood, said Dandy, 51. She remembered one morning when her nieces and nephews had all gone outside. When the adults went to look for them, they found them at Davis’ house. She was cooking them breakfast.
“She was special,” Dandy said.
Another neighbor, Sarah Anderson, said Davis adored her four or five grandchildren and took them on a Disney cruise last year.
When Davis retired from the Postal Service, Anderson said, her plans were to work as a school crossing guard.
Editor’s note: Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Patrice Moore asked media present at Javarick Henderson’s first appearance Tuesday morning not to show his face, but there is no legal order prohibiting the Tampa Bay Times from doing so. The Times has named the 13-year-old in published reports because of the seriousness of the crime he is accused of committing. The Times has decided to not show the boy’s face at this time — a decision that could change in the future.
Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.