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HomeNewsArchivesSouthwell Arrested as Adult in Lerner Murder

Southwell Arrested as Adult in Lerner Murder

John Jared Southwell, 18, was arrested by Major Crime Investigation Bureau detectives and charged as an adult in the October 26, 2008, shooting death of 27-year-old Gabriel L. Lerner.

Southwell was a minor when he was arrested shortly after the murder and has been detained at the Youth Rehabilitation Center on St. Croix. On July 1 he was bound over as an adult on the order of Judge Audrey Thomas and brought back to St. Thomas, were he was held in custody. Monday’s arrest, at about 10 a.m., based on a warrant signed by Judge James Carroll. Southwell is now being held without bail at the Bureau of Corrections on St. Thomas.

Gabriel L. Lerner was employed as a V.I. Superior Court law clerk. According to police, Southwell and Devon Frett, who was 22 at the time, robbed, kidnapped and killed Lerner after he gave the pair a ride in his car.

Southwell has been charged with aiding and abetting another in first degree murder, felony murder, first degree assault-robbery and using an unauthorized firearm during the commission of a murder.


Both Southwell and Frett were picked up in late October 2008 after they were spotted driving Lerner’s car. The two managed to elude police officers after leading them on a car chase through the streets of St. Thomas, but were caught later that evening and brought in for questioning.

According to detectives, information provided by Southwell led police to Lerner’s body, which was found on the far west end of the island near the Blue Water Bible College. In court hearings, police detectives said that Frett and Southwell allegedly robbed and abducted Lerner after he stopped to give him a ride. Lerner was subsequently locked in the trunk as the two allegedly drove around the island, finally stopping on the West End, where Lerner was later killed — shot once in the back of the head.

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