A recent presentation to young people at the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in Philadelphia reminded me of a much beloved mentor for youth, Veno Leigertwood who died way too young.
On the morning of September 13, 2008 the bright future of Veno E.E. Leigertwood Jr. was cut short when he was robbed and murdered outside of his Yeadon, Pennsylvania home. He was just 31-years-old. Leigertwood, who was studying for his Master’s degree in Business Administration at Eastern University had hopes of returning to his native country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean to start a family business. He is described by his mother, Mrs. Viola Leigertwood as a bright young man who was ambitious, motivated and goal oriented. Although he had a lot more than other people his age, he was humble and would help anyone in need. In addition to business, Veno had a passion for educating youth.
Veno was working at the Philadelphia School District in the GEAR UP Program that prepares students for university. In an interview with Veno’s mother, she recalled that, “Veno loved children and working with young people.” In fact, he enjoyed working with young people so much that he decided not to pursue a career in medicine because he was devoted to educating youth.
Since a young age, Veno enjoyed music and art. He was also known as a funny and caring individual who loved people and respected everyone. Members of his family and the community sought his advice, especially financial advice. He enjoyed spending time with his family on vacations and family gatherings.
Veno’s death devastated his close-knit family. He left behind a wife and newborn daughter as well as a devoted mother, sister, Donna and his father who passed away about four years ago. Veno held a close relationship with his mother and real-estate business partner. She stated, “I don’t ever want any mother in this entire world to go through what I am going through. It is tearing me apart.” Veno and his mother would often go walking together to exercise and bond. Mrs. Leigertwood continues to take walks and she still feels his presence.
Initially the case went unsolved for almost four years. During this time suspicion was placed on Veno’s wife who is the beneficiary to two $1 million life insurance policies that were taken out just eighteen days before the murder. However, in January 2012 police gained a confession from Eddie Poindexter Tate who admitted to being present when Veno was murdered. Tate who has a criminal record for robbery and assault, stated that he was driving around with two other individuals looking for someone to rob when they came upon Veno outside of his home. Tate stated that another individual pulled the trigger. To date, no other individuals have been charged. The investigation still continues and police are working diligently to prosecute Eddie Tate. http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/CPReport.ashx?docketNumber=CP-23-MD-0000311-2012
Mrs. Viola Leigertwood, a law enforcement professional, believes in justice and prays that the truth will come out. Veno leaves behind a legacy of peace and caring that impacted thousands of young lives through his work in education. Six years after his death he is still greatly missed by his community, family and friends.