Saturday, July 6, 2013

We Lament a Senseless Loss of Life

Jett Higham

                        Jett Higham was born in Lenox Hill Hospital eighteen years ago..    Education and creativity are valued in his home as both his parents are educators.   Jett attended some very good private schools in Brooklyn.  Most recently Jett was attending the Lower Manhattan Arts Academy.  He needed only one more course for graduation.    Jett's family divides their time between New York and Richmond as Jett's mother is both a Broadway costume designer and a professor of Theatre at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond.
                   Both intelligent and creative, Jett explored a number of areas which caught his interest.  He was an excellent student, a fine photographer, and a lacrosse player, all at only 18. From Jett's internet imprint, he appeared to be a good gamer, as well.
                       Jett had only been in the family's Jackson Ward home for six days when he learned that he could complete his one remaining course for graduation in Richmond.  It would have been interesting to see which college he would have chosen to attend.   On Tuesday, July 2nd, the family ate a late dinner together and then Jett went out walking to get some candy and some soda.  He had four dollars with him. He was targeted by three young black men, and in what police characterize as a robbery gone wrong. He had only been gone from his house for five minutes when he was robbed and when he failed to relinquish his phone and his four dollars quickly enough, he was shot.  He died at the scene.  His parents were notified the next morning, as his parents spent the night texting him to no avail.    How ironic to have lived eighteen years in New York and to have navigated the hazards there, only to pass suddenly within a week of moving to Richmond.   No account of this story attributes his shooting to gang activity.   Jett died in an alley on Marshall St. not far from the First Friday Art Walk that my oldest kids were required to attend, when they attended Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts.  The area surrounding Virginia Commonwealth University is a "gun free zone" as prescribed by Virginia State Law.
                     Shortly thereafter, three arrests were made. Two adults and a juvenile are being held in connection with this murder.
                     Jett was a striking looking young man of six foot three, and the only things we may have left of him now, are the films and television clips in which Jett was a frequent extra.  Like most eighteens, he had big dreams. He thought about following his mother into the creative clothing line, and perhaps being a clothing designer.  However, there was no telling what this creative, engaging and loved young man would have brought to this world in the long term.

                    When my two eldest kids were at VCU, the young man who shared a neighboring art studio with one of my kids was shot to death one night also in a botched robbery in Monroe Park near the tennis courts.. Tyler Binstead hailed from the Shenendoah Valley. We often think of his twin brother and of his family, and certainly of Tyler's girlfriend who witnessed the robbery that night,  and Tyler's killing also.       Jonny Dorey, a VCU exchange student from the British Isles region island of Guernsey disappeared in March of 2010, never to be heard from again.  He has never been found and  his bicycle has never  been located.  Some theorize that he was robbed in the vicinity of Rockett's Landing.

                      As the parent of a child who died suddenly of non-violent means, I can only imagine the bewilderment and sorrow of Jett's father, his mother, and his sister.   Jett also has relatives who live in Australia.  Their remaining time on Earth will be spent without seeing the great heights this promising young man could have reached.   Of the people we really need on Earth to help to solve all of our complex problems here, Jett was so clearly one of those..  Tonight our thoughts and our prayers are with them.  The loss of a parent takes one's past. The loss of a spouse takes one's present, but a loss of a child, steals the future.
                   We lament the loss of this young man, and we pray for his family and friends for whom the journey of loss has just begun.

Jett Higham sculpting

Jett's family, his father, sister Cosima, and mother on the right.  (Photo: The Richmond Times Dispatch)



About Jett:

About Tyler Binstead:


For those who would like to sign the online guest book for Jett's family with your condolences:

Jett Higham's Legacy Guest Book

This is a statement from Jett's mother:

“We are eternally grateful to Graham Moomaw of the Richmond Times-Dispatch for coming to our home to interview us about who our son really was in this world. Our anguish at this senseless act was compounded by reading reports of “Man Found Dead in Downtown Richmond Alley”. I wrote an email to put a face on our child, who was not yet a man but a vibrant, sometime knuckle headed, a boy of 18, 6’3 and one of the most gorgeous young black men on the planet, not just another nameless, faceless young black male gunned down by other young black males. I am glad that we were able to let everyone know that he was loved and a son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend. Every child lost, whatever the circumstances and who they are, has the same. The short thrift the media gives the countless, seemly endless, deaths of young black males and woman is abominable. That we have been able have our son’s story told is of some comfort to us. I thank every who has so kindly and loving supported us in our grief and letting us vent on FB. We will survive for the only way we can honor our son is to keep living. Your support and outpourings of love is a tremendous help. Love your families and I’d appreciate it if your keep us in your prayers. We have a long road ahead. "

This is a tribute to Jett, by his sister Cosima:

         And of course, Jett's mother, his father, his sister and their extended family are in our prayers, most especially this year, and forever after.

Another wonderful tribute to Jett

"Remember Me" Mark Schultz with background vocals by Ginny Owens

This is a link to a scholarship program in Jett's memory, created by his family.

Jett and his mom


  1. So very tragic. He was robbed of the life he should have had and his family was robbed of the future that they had crafted with their love and devotion. There are no words.

    1. Thank you for posting. Yes, all that you said is true. Jett's family begins the journey that you and I travel every day, and I would rather spare anyone the path of the loss of a child.

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, and while the country has focused on the Martin-Zimmerman case, somehow this managed to elude national tv news. This is a terrible tragedy.


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