77ºF

JTA bus driver found dead in driveway

61-year-old found dead in front of Northside home by mail carrier, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 61-year-old Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus driver found dead in his driveway Tuesday afternoon appears to have been killed, authorities said.

Kenneth Hawkins was found lying in his driveway on Biscayne Lake Drive, south of Interstate 295, by a mail carrier about 2:05 p.m. Tuesday, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Sgt. Chuck Ford said Hawkins was apparently out mowing his lawn and doing other yard work when he was killed.

"This victim here appears to be a true homeowner, a true victim, who was out cutting his grass," Ford said. "All indications are he is truly an innocent victim here."

Hawkins' twin brother, Kendell, said Thursday afternoon that he was deeply saddened over the loss of his brother. He is currently planning Kenneth's funeral.

One neighbor said she gave surveillance video from her home to JSO. It showed Kenneth mowing his lawn moments before the murder.

Hawkins' neighbors said he was a friendly, kind man, and they can't believe a crime like this happened in such a peaceful community.

"He was definitely a good guy. I was shocked that it happened to him," D.C. Stone said.

Stone said he saw Hawkins just 20 minutes before police said he was murdered. Less than an hour later, a mail carrier found Hawkins in the driveway and asked Stone for help.

"When I went up there, she says, 'Will you check and see if he's breathing?'" Stone said.

But Hawkins was dead. Police have not said how he was killed.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said investigators are likely working several angles for the case.

"They'll check his entire background and see what they can find on his computer, if he was communicating with anyone, if he was having arguments with anyone," Smith said. "Family members that he was very close to them. If he has kids or any relative that may know what was going on in his personal life could shed some light on him."

Kennedy Mumford, who has lived in the community for 18 years, said he does not remember anything like this ever happening in the area before.

"It just concerned me that something like that happened in a neighborhood that is this quiet and peaceful," Mumford said.

JSO's crime-mapping tool shows only two crimes within a 1-mile radius of Hawkins' home: a larceny and a smiple assault.

Smith said that confirms the area is quiet, and he believes that information will help detectives in solving the case.

"People in low-crime areas are more likely to cooperate with police, because they really want these types of crimes solved and solved quickly," Smith said.

Stone said seeing his neighbor dead is an image stuck in his mind.

"It's really tough to see a guy out mowing his lawn, waving at you when you go by, always friendly, and the next time you see him. It was tough to see," Stone said.

JTA released the following statement to News4Jax Wednesday on Hawkins' death.

All of us at the JTA are deeply saddened by the loss of a friend and co-worker, Kenneth Hawkins. He had been a bus operator since 2004. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this most difficult time."

A vigil to remember Hawkins will be held at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 at the Rosa Parks Transit Station in downtown Jacksonville.

Police have no suspect information and asked for the community's help to identify anyone who might be responsible for Hawkins' death.

Anyone with information can contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.


About the Authors: