Justice

“After the Uprising,” A Lost Voice Sheds New Light on Danyé Jones’s Relationships

With leads evaporating and little help from the authorities, the quest for answers about Danyé Jones’ death turned towards his friends and family. There’s still too much unknown about the night Danyé died, but his family asserts that a woman named Dasha may have the answers.

Dasha was a member of “Lost Voices,” an activist group dedicated to racial justice that formed after the police killing of Michael Brown, Jr., and when contacted by podcast investigators she was able to reveal several intriguing new details about Danyé Jones' state of mind before his death. Dasha and Danyé had been romantically involved for years, an on-again, off-again relationship that, according to Dasha, was on the verge of being rekindled just before Danyé’s death.

Like Danyé’s family members, she didn’t believe that Danyé was suicidal, though she says he was concerned about rumors that had been spreading about his sexuality. According to Dasha, the last time they spoke was two days before Danyé’s October 2018 death. The conversation circled around unfounded gossip that Danyé was gay. When their talk ended, Dasha felt like she had helped him up, and Danyé promised to call her back. Sadly, he would be dead before he got the chance, a loss that his former flame says left her devastated.

One surprising detail from Dasha’s recollection is that Danyé and his mother, Melissa McKinnies, were not on the best terms. According to Dasha, Melissa was less than supportive of her son at times, and that they were not even on speaking terms before Danyé’s death. Melissa denies this, though she admits they had an argument a few weeks before but that she had made peace with her son well before he died. None of this had been previously volunteered by Melissa to the media.

Melissa also maintains that her son wasn’t interested in rekindling his relationship with Dasha, that he wanted to marry and have a child but not specifically with her, and that Dasha and Danyé were not speaking to each other before he died. On top of that, Danyé’s siblings Melisha and Javon were less than impressed with Dasha’s behavior at a gathering for their departed brother, believing that she was faking her tears.

It is unclear whose impression of Danyé’s state of mind is more accurate in these back and forth testimonies, but podcast investigators did believe Dasha may hold the key to unlocking some concrete answers -- literally. Dasha is one of the few people remembered to have known the passcode to Danyé’s phone, and though it had been a long time, she was able to provide some educated guesses when asked.

To try out the passcodes on Danyé’s two cell phones, Melissa agreed to meet the podcast investigators after an important event she was asked to attend -- the fifth anniversary of the killing of Mike Brown, Jr. Every year the community gathers at the location where he died in Ferguson to commemorate his life and pressure the authorities to re-open his case and indict the officer who shot him.

Not long after the fourth anniversary event in 2018, a young man named Kawynn Humphries was shot and paralyzed by three men in an apparent robbery. He credits Melissa for saving his life, and states that the Ferguson Police seemed uninterested in his case and finding the people who shot him. No one was ever prosecuted for what they did to Kawynn, despite surveillance cameras within sight of the incident, fingerprints and DNA reportedly found on scene, and Kawynn even identifying one of the men in a line up. Melissa herself was unable to keep up with Kawynn and his family after the shooting, because two months after it occured, her own son Danyé was taken from her.

A year later, Melissa had doubts about attending the memorial service as she had so many times prior, but she was enticed to join after Michael Brown Jr’s family announced that the fifth anniversary would be dedicated to honoring the “Ferguson Frontline” activists of which Melissa was a part for their sacrifices in pursuit of justice for Brown.

Also mentioned by one featured speaker at the fifth memorial was the number of young men of color who had passed away from mysterious causes in the wake of the Ferguson protests. These included Edward Crawford Jr., who was reported to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and Deandre Joshua and Darren Seals, who were murdered by parties still undiscovered by police and their bodies set on fire, and Bassem Masri, a Palestinian-American activist reported to have died from heart failure with fentanyl in his system.

The living bore the scars of injustice as well. So many at the protests had their own stories to tell, like Dornella Conner, who lost her sight from a less-than-lethal round fired by a police officer at her head. Many more activists recounted stories about being prosecuted and jailed for their actions. It was clear that the fallout in the years since Mike Brown’s death had left a deep, painful, and traumatic burden on those who have used their voices to fight for a better world.

Several people at the protest knew Danyé Jones as well, but perhaps surprisingly, some of them shared their belief in the official story that the young man died by suicide. They were convinced by the facts at hand, that there were no signs of struggle, that a chair was found next to his body, and that Danyé was a quiet, pensive person. Most who provided this opinion also were open to a definitive piece of evidence that might change their minds, the kind of evidence that might be found inside Danyé’s phone.

For more on Dasha and Danyé’s relationship in her own words, and to hear the stories of those at the Michael Brown, Jr. Memorial Service, be sure to listen to Episode 6 of ‘After the Uprising,’ and make sure to follow ‘After the Uprising’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for further updates and insights on Danyé’s story.


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