King suspect appears in court

Jamal Jefferson Woolford

The third suspect in the killings of a Mount Pleasant couple in St. Maarten appeared Monday before an island judge.

“The suspect is cooperating with police and has made a statement,” the prosecution said in a news release after the hearing.

No details of the statement were released. Police are analyzing “all information gathered in the course of the investigation so far” and comparing statements from all three suspects, according to the release.

The suspect, identified by island authorities as 20-year-old J.J.W., was nabbed on Thursday after having fled to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the prosecutor’s office said Friday.

The man called J.J.W. and two other men are implicated in the slayings of Mike and Thelma King, part-time island residents who also owned a home at Toler’s Cover in Mount Pleasant. The Kings were found stabbed to death Sept. 21 inside their beachfront condo at Cupecoy in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten. They had last been seen and heard from on Sept. 19.

Police already had two men in custody and Wednesday, they determined that a third suspect, had left St. Maarten by airplane that afternoon for St. Thomas. Prosecutors asked for his provisional arrest in view of extradition. On Thursday, he was arrested by St. Thomas law enforcement officers.

Authorities think this third suspect was involved in the violent deaths of the Kings and a Sept. 19 robbery at the Happy Star Chinese restaurant on St. Maarten.

Dutch privacy rules prevent authorities from releasing the suspect’s full name, but The St. Martin News Network reported that he is Jamal Jefferson Woolford, a Guyanese national and a former student of the St. Maarten Academy. SMN News also reported that Woolford received a government scholarship to attend a marine program and he was working for a tour company at a local marina.

Citing unnamed sources, SMN News also reported that Woolford’s mother lives in the Cape Bay area, where the other two suspects also live. He is reportedly close friends and a former schoolmate of one other suspect, 17-year-old Jeremiah Chevon Mills.

Woolford, who waived his rights under American law, was extradited to St. Maarten on Friday, where he was arrested upon arrival at the airport.

Mills remains in custody as well, as does the first man arrested in the case, Meyshane Kemar Johnson, a 28-year-old security guard. Johnson and Mills are said to be cousins. Johnson also has been implicated in the Happy Star holdup.

Island authorities announced last week that Johnson has confessed to his involvement in the Kings’ murders and the robbery.

Under Dutch law, prosecutors must present evidence to the court to justify the continued detention of suspects, who are usually formally charged right before trial. Solicitor General Taco Stein told The Post and Courier last week that prosecutors believe they have strong evidence in the case.