By Erin Garnett
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
October 20, 2015 was Kenneth Felton’s last day on earth. He was only 23.
Since then, his mother, Keasha Jennings, has been doing everything in her power to keep in contact with authorities. The hope is always in finding the person or persons responsible for her son’s murder.
“I talked to the detective that was assigned to that case from day one. He told me that he would not stop and would not give up Kenneth’s case,” Jennings said. But so far, there are no answers.
In March 2017, Jennings was told in a meeting with the detective and the state attorney that her son’s case was going cold and being suspended. Now, Jennings is being told that the case is not cold. She has not yet been given clarification about the exact status.
Jennings said, “I’m in limbo. I need to know because if it’s not cold then I need to be in touch with detectives.” It leaves her in a state of even more confusion.
Felton, a Jacksonville resident, was shot outside of his Linda Drive apartment around 5:30 p.m. that Tuesday evening. According to Jennings’ understanding of the incident, Kenneth had gotten off work and went inside his apartment. He returned to get something out of his car and that is when the murder took place.
She had just spoken to her son thirty minutes earlier. He called her after work, as he did every day, and they said “I love you” before hanging up. Jennings said, “We talked every day and we could talk about anything.”
Forty-five minutes later, she got a call from her other son, Michael, saying that someone told him that Kenneth had been shot. She rushed to the hospital, but he passed away by the time she arrived.
Since Kenneth didn’t have his ID on him at the time, Jennings had to identify her son’s body. “They wanted to know if he had any tattoos. The only kind I could remember was the one with my name on his arm,” she recalled.
Jennings has four sons. Kenneth was her third and, as she recalls, her hardest labor. It lasted 20 hours.
She described her son as always having an old soul. “When he was like four or five years old, I used to catch myself talking to him, holding conversations like he was a grown man,” Jennings said. “We’d be talking back and forth, and I’d be like, ‘Kenneth, I think you’ve been here before.’”
Kenneth gave her two grandsons. Kenneth Felton, Jr. and Jo’siah Daniels were toddlers when their father was killed. His sons see their grandmother and uncles very often. They are young but aware of what happened to their father.
“I know he [Kenneth Felton, Jr.] knows that his dad isn’t here, and I know sometimes his mom tells me that he gets kind of sad,” Jennings said.
Felton’s younger brother and Jennings’ youngest son, Raynard Felton, said that sometimes his 5-year-old daughter gets confused. “Sometimes she forgets that he’s not here anymore. She’d see a picture of him and ask, ‘Where’s Uncle Bean?’” Felton said.
Kenneth Felton was known as “Bean” to all his friends and family. His mother said that many did not even know his real name was Kenneth until they went to the funeral or saw the death announcement. He got the nickname when a cousin first saw him in the delivery room and thought his head was shaped like a little bean.
His family remembers him being very athletic growing up and participating in Boy Scouts. He played basketball, football, and baseball. Basketball was always his favorite.
Jennings got her first tattoos after his death. The inside of her right wrist says “Bean” and the inside of her left wrist has the number 15, which was the number on her son’s basketball jersey throughout high school. “I said the tattoo can’t hurt no more than the pain in my heart,” said Jennings.
Jennings never knew what her son was going to be as he grew up, but she was always curious. “When I asked him what he was going to be, he always used to say, ‘Mom I don’t know, but whatever I am, I’m gonna help people.’”
Raynard said there was one thing he was sure of when it came to his brother: “I knew he was going to be a good father,” he said.
On that day in October 2015, neither Raynard nor the oldest brother, Dante’ Jennings, could accept the news as they heard it.
Raynard was at football practice when he got the news. He immediately slammed down his phone on the ground and started to bust through doors. Eventually, he made it to a park where he sat and listened to music for hours.
Dante’ recalled, “Mom said he didn’t make it and it was like I ran into a brick wall. All I can recall after that is not even accepting it, not even believing it.”
As for possible motives, Dante’ said, “I’m not oblivious to the interactions that he’s had in the streets,” and that “the street protocol is different from the corporate protocol in life.”
Still, the family does not know of a specific person or situation that would have caused this. According to Keasha Jennings, “Kenneth was targeted. It was malicious, and it was intentional, based on the information I’ve received from the police.”
She remains hopeful that the case will get solved and does not plan to give up because those responsible need to face the consequences of their actions.
“I know it won’t bring Kenneth back,” she says, “but I really deep down in my heart want every party involved in his death brought to justice through the judicial system. I have to be very very specific when I say that because I don’t want retaliation. I want them to pay in jail and think every day, regardless of where they are, they’re still living and my son is not.”
Dante’ is less hopeful. “I don’t have too much faith in the system as is, especially when it comes to crimes that deal with the black and brown community and crimes that have over time been categorized as our normal interactions,” said Jennings. He still believes that “whoever it is, the universe will definitely line up to see that they pay for the energy that they put out.”
The family did agree on was that their “Bean” was a hard worker and was extremely sociable. They described him as a “connector,” “a talker,” and someone who treated people right.
While her sons do not closely follow the investigation process because it is too difficult for them, Keasha Jennings does not plan to stop anytime soon.
“I think it is possible that the case will get solved the way my mom stays on it. She won’t let it go unsolved,” said Raynard Felton.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Kenneth Felton, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.
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