Tuesday, August 16, 2011

St. Tammany Parish, LA: Boyfriend arrested in Mandeville murder

Family and friends say Joshua Roberson and Tabitha Ross fought, but no more than many young couples.

They said the couple, who had an on-again, off-again relationship since junior high school, planned to get married in the near future, which makes what happened Sunday all the more shocking.

Now the two families and a host of close family friends are mourning two lives – one lost to death and one that will be spent behind bars.

Mandeville Police believe Roberson killed Ross during one of their many fights during the early morning hours Sunday.

Friends say the two ran into each other at a party Saturday night at the Mandeville Community Center, and when the party ended they joined many others at a local bar for a few drinks.

When the bar closed, Roberson went back to his house at 707 Adair Street.

Ross had a friend of hers bring her to the home and told the girl to wait outside while she ran in to talk to Roberson.

The girl told police she waited outside in the car, listening to the radio for approximately 20 minutes when Roberson stuck his head out and told her to go on home that Ross was spending the night.

It was during those 20 minutes that police believe Roberson, 28, pulled out a .22-caliber firearm and shot Ross, also 28, in the head, killing his girlfriend.

Kelvin Edgerson, a friend of both families, said when relatives and friends had not heard from Ross on Sunday they grew concerned and began asking around.

It was then, Jonathan Wilson, said his cousin, Roberson, started acting nervous and telling people that Ross had been accidentally shot.

Word made it back to Ross’ family, and at 8:30 p.m., her sister, Marcie Ross called Mandeville police to report that she thought her sister had been shot and her body was in Roberson’s home.

Wilson said he found out about the murder when he heard sirens and saw family members trying to kick in the front door of Roberson’s home.

When Mandeville police arrived, they found Ross’s body tied up in a tarp right inside the front door of the home.

Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard said there was dried blood in the home and it appeared that the body had been drug to the doorway from another location in the home. He said detectives also found discarded bloody sheets and it appeared someone had attempted to wipe the blood up in places.

Residents told officers they believed Roberson was at a home in the 400 block of Lamarque Street. He was located there and taken in for questioning.

Richard said he made “some incriminating statements,” but claimed the shooting was an accident and he panicked.

He told officers he disposed of the weapon and further interrogation got him to tell them where.

Richard said the couple has a history of domestic issues and was known to have a “volatile relationship.”

They both have had previous run ins with the law for drug infractions and Roberson has prior arrests for robbery and illegal possession of a firearm and Ross for theft, worthless checks and bank fraud.

Winston said it appeared the two had put their unlawful activities behind him and his cousin had recently confided in him how much he cared for the girl he had seen off and on since junior high. They had both moved away for a time, and he said, they both came back more mature.

However, he said he feared, Robeson had a lot of him that he fought to keep under wraps.

When at Mandeville Junior High School, the once heralded basketball star was expelled from school and kicked off the team after slapping a girl. Winston said Roberson’s father has also passed away and he thinks that affected his cousin more than his cousin let on.

“When he was in junior high everyone thought he would be in the NBA and everyone looked up to him,” he said, shaking his head and looking at the ground, now he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Edgerson said Ross was very sociable and was always texting or talking on the phone to someone.

“Tab was the most fun person you could ever be with. She would lift you up,” Winston said. “It was just senseless. It did not have to go to that extent. Everybody knows how much they loved each other.”

He questioned his cousin’s story.

“If it was an accident she would not have been tied and wrapped up like that. If he panicked he should have called the police or something,” he said. “He did not start panicking until her sister came looking for him.”

He said for his sake and for his family’s sake, he hopes his cousin fesses up to what he did.

“I hope he admits it to the family so they can have closure and so they don’t try to serve justice on him,” Winston said. “There is a lot of tension in the air.”

Richard admitted that the two families come from close-knit communities in Lacombe and Mandeville, and he added, that is what helped detectives in getting an arrest so quickly.

“I am grateful that in this community people want to talk to us,” said.

He also thanked the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office and State Police Troop L for helping with the case, saying it is great to work in a place where there is such great teamwork among law enforcement and the public.

This is the first murder in the city limits of Mandeville since 2006 and the sixth since 1990 and all have been solved.

Ross’ killing marks the seventh homicide in St. Tammany Parish this year.

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