2 accused of killing of church deacon found dead in smoldering apartment

By Heather Leigh, Mobile journalist, hleigh@wjxt.com
News4Jax.com Staff, webteam@wjxt.com
Published On: May 22 2014 12:26:41 PM EDT
Updated On: May 22 2014 07:59:17 PM EDT

53-year-old Andrew "Jerome" Stephens was found beaten, stabbed and shot to death April 15th inside his burned-out Northwest Jacksonville apartment. Police arrested 33-year-old Darrius Jones and 25-year-old Keshia Love, initially, for an unrelated crime. Detectives say Love confessed to killing Stephens, and told them Jones was also involved.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Two people were arrested Wednesday in the killing of a 53-year-old church deacon who was found dead in a smoldering apartment last month.

Keshia Love, 25, and her boyfriend, Darrius Jones, 33, were charged with murder in the death of Andrew "Jerome" Stephens (pictured below).

Police said Love moved in with Stephens shortly before his death, then beat, stabbed and shot Stephens on April 15 at his Northside apartment. They said the two stole his wallet and car and went to Walgreen's afterward to buy baby wipes and formula for their child.

Police said the suspects attempted to use Stephens' credit card and it didn't work. They bought the supplies anyway and drove to an acquaintance's house, where their child was staying, police said.

Investigators said the suspects dropped off the formula and wipes then headed back to the apartment and set it on fire, attempting to cover up what they had done. Then they went back to the acquaintance's house, police said.

Smoke was seen coming from Stephens' apartment after his daughter, who hadn't seen him in a couple of days, asked a maintenance worker to check on him.

Investigators said the worker found the front door to be locked but the back door was not. They said he saw smoke coming from the apartment, then found Stephens dead inside.

Stephens was a deacon at Pentecostal Church of God.

"That just shows you how evil and heartless people are," said Stephens' daughter, Anita. "That just show you that she didn't have a heart and neither did her friend."

Anita Stephens said living without her father is one of the hardest things they've ever had to do.

"It's still unbelievable," Anita said. "Some days you still wake up and you say, 'Let me call my daddy. Let me ask him this.' And then you realize you can't because someone took him from you. It's still shocking."

Police said Love and Jones were arrested Wednesday in Jacksonville Beach for an unrelated crime.

They said the acquaintance told police something wasn't right and noticed Love and Jones acting strangely and found some of the stolen items.

Love is also charged with burglary, grand theft, dealing in stolen property and giving false ID to pawn items. Jones is also charged with arson, burglary, grand theft, armed robbery, dealing in stolen property and possession of a firearm by convicted felon.

Records show Jones has an extensive criminal history that stems back to 2004.