JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The parents of 18-year-old Adrian Watkins Jr. now have a void in their lives that will never be filled.
Watkins was found dead in a ditch in Northwest Jacksonville on Saturday.
"My heart is broken," said Adrian Watkins Sr., Watkins' dad. "It's so hard to sit here and know that my son is not going to walk through the door."
Watkins' parents call him loving and say he adored his family and teaching his siblings how to do things. The First Coast High School student enjoyed cooking and sports.
His parents say they did their best to raise him right, but lately he started hanging out with the wrong crowd.
On Friday night, the teen told his parents he was going to a party at a Hampton Inn. They tried to talk him out of it, and that was their last conversation.
"He needed to stay home and listen to his mother. That was the last thing," Watkins Sr. said. "He wanted to go to the party."
Homicide detectives said a 14-year-old boy walking the ditch line next to Rutledge Pearson Elementary School, off Roanoke Boulevard, found Watkins' body.
"I can't imagine what he was thinking when all this was going on, his last few minutes. That's the hardest part," said Genea Watkins, Watkins' mom.
Watkins' parents are hoping their tragedy puts other teens on the right track.
"For all the young men out there, take this one lesson: Appreciate your life; live it to the fullest," Watkins Sr. said. "It's not about being a thug, it's not about being a gangster. It's about being a young man of this community, of this city and of this world."
It's a world his son left too early, also leaving behind a grieving family that will never be the same.
"Just listen to your parents; don't end up in a situation that they cannot get you out of, because if I could take all this back I would, but there is nothing I can do but hurt and mourn for my son," Watkins Sr. said.
Anyone with any information about the killing is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
Watkins' parents have set up a VyStar account to help pay for funeral expenses. The account number is 7504562324.
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