‘Something just doesn’t add up’: Roanoke man’s death ruled suicide, but family has suspicions

Israel Jackson was found dead in April

ROANOKE, Va. – It was a chilling discovery: A young man found hanging from a tree behind a Roanoke business.

More than two months later, his family is still unsettled.

WATCH LIVE: Family of Israel Jackson asks Roanoke leaders to reopen investigation

While the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke ruled Israel Jackson’s death a suicide, his family has their suspicions and feels like they’re not getting the full story.

Jackson disappeared in early April. His family filed a police report within the first week of the month, according to the Roanoke City Police Department. By the end of the month, the 20-year-old was found hanging from a tree in the 4100 block of Plantation Road, according to his family and police.

As the death was ruled a suicide, many media outlets chose not to report on the case.

“Something just doesn’t add up and we’re looking to shine a light on this to ensure the family gets a full, thorough investigation,” said the family’s attorney Kush Shukla.

Jackson, a former William Fleming football player, is remembered as a son and brother working to unify his family.

His biological mother, Melody Jackson, told 10 News that no one heard from him for weeks before he was found hanging from a tree.

“The last messages to me; he was very determined and energetic about unifying the family – making sure it was his mission to make sure the family was taken care of,” said Melody Jackson. “I’m not really sure where we are. The last I heard, they said my son’s case was closed.”

Melody said her son didn’t always have the easiest life, but at the time of his death, she felt he was coming into his own.

“It wasn’t his mind frame. He was becoming more energetic and enthused about life. Feeling like he was coming into purpose because he knew which direction he wanted to go with his life,” said Melody Jackson.

Recently, he returned to Virginia to tie up loose ends before possibly joining the military.

“He was a beautiful person and I just want to give that to the world,” said Melody Jackson.

10 News reporter McKinley Strother asked Melody Jackson if she saw any indication that Israel was contemplating suicide before his death or has found anything since. She said no.

At a press conference Monday evening, his family made a plea to the public for their help.

“I don’t understand how my boy could go lost for three weeks and nobody know where he was, what he ate,” questioned his aunt LuWillow Jackson. “I just don’t understand why I just can’t get the information to where he took his last breath. I just want to go there and see what he was looking at? What was he thinking about?”

“He wouldn’t have done this to himself. I put that on everything. It’s so crazy that we’re here doing this because I could never imagine having to do something like this for him,” said his best friend, Jalin Gravely. He last saw him April 5 as he left his apartment.

If you have any information to help the family, call 347-670-0937. Or email them at justice@mwinjurylaw.com.

About the Author

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

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