Kansas Cold Cases: Joshua Jernagin

Updated: May. 8, 2022 at 9:58 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One night, Joshua Jernagin was playing soccer with the kids from his central Topeka neighborhood. By the next morning, the 30-year-old was dead.

Though many people heard something, his killer still has not been brought to justice

Josh grew up in the middle of a family with six children. His older sister Jessica Miller said the way her brother died doesn’t add up with the way he lived.

“Josh was a very funny kid growing up,” she said. “He liked to play soccer. He loved to cook eggs and rice. We were always taught to be kind, so he always tried to help people and look out for people.”

Hurricane Katrina moved the family to Kansas, where Jessica says Josh built his best life as a father of four.

“He loved being around his family,” she said.

Now, Jessica, her siblings, and their mom Juanita DeMyers, who lives in Mississippi, are left with memories.

“There’s not a day that I go by that I don’t think about him,” Juanita said.

October 3rd, 2017, Josh was shot and killed inside his apartment in the 1300 block of SW Western.

Sgt. Jason Schumacher leads the Topeka Police homicide unit, which continues investigating the case.

“There was some type of confrontation based off what we’ve gathered from witnesses that heard what occurred at the apartment complex,” he said. “There was another female that was inside the apartment with him, adult female, that was shot and critically wounded.”

Also inside the apartment were the couple’s four children, who were unhurt.

“Anytime you can walk into an apartment and shoot in front of children... yeah, you’re a coward. You’re evil,” Jessica said.

Sgt. Schumacher said the presence of children makes the case stand out.

“Anytime you throw children into any of the homicides or any crime that happens, it gets more emotional because it happens with them around and you worry about what could have happened to them or what’s going to happen to them in the future because of the life changing event that occurred,” he said.

Josh’s girlfriend survived, but Sgt. Schumacher said the severity of her injuries have made her unable to offer much information.

Jessica said she and another of her brothers lived near Josh. She said her brother called to tell her something was going on at Josh’s building, and she then received an alert that 13 NEWS was live on Facebook reporting on the incident. She knew something was very wrong.

“That’s probably one of the hardest things to this date in my life that I have had to do is to identify my brother, and say, yes, that is him,” Jessica recalls. “I wouldn’t wish it on nobody.”

Five years later, the family and police continue searching for answers. Josh is the four of hearts in the Kansas Cold Case Deck, playing cards that will be distributed in the state’s prisons and jails trying to generate tips.

“Somebody knows something and, if it was your child, as a mother, you would want some answers. You would want some closure,” Juanita said. “His life was just really taken away from him, and not only taken away from him, but taken away from his four children.”

Sgt. Schumacher said someone has the information needed to crack the case.

“There’s evidence that’s been collected. There’s witnesses that have been talked to, and we need something that puts the two together,” he said.

As much as they’d like closure, the family also tries not to dwell on the past.

“I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. I’m not none of that because I feel like that would be giving the person that did it too much power,” Jessica said. “I’d rather live my life like my brother lived his, which is helping people, showing love, loving on the children, having your family together. I’d rather just show love and kindness the way he did.”

“We want justice for my son so we can move on,” Juanita added.

If you know anything about Joshua Jernagin’s death - or any cold case - call the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, 1-800-KS-CRIME.

Prior KS Cold Case Profiles:

John Waller

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