‘He never should’ve been free in this town again’: Family of deadly Ione stabbing victim slams justice system

The family is now calling for an external investigation into Jenkins’ release and his supervision.

IONE, Calif. — Police released more information Tuesday in the case of Joseph Stephen Jenkins, a parolee accused of stabbing three people in Ione leaving one dead and two injured.

The family of the woman stabbed to death also lambasted the handling of the suspect’s parole, as well as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s trip to China.

THE SUSPECT: JOSEPH STEPHENS JENKINS

Ione Police Chief John Alfred started Tuesday’s news conference by correcting a statement he made Monday about suspect Joseph Stephens Jenkins, saying he was out on parole for attempted murder, not murder as he previously said.

Alfred then detailed how Jenkins ended up back in Ione but did not have information on the 2011 case that sent him to prison in the first place, however, a 2011 report by the Stockton Record indicates it’s connected to an Oct. 30, 2011, stabbing in Ione.

The report mentions Jenkins was on parole in 2011 and at the time police said he had a “violent history,” though Alfred said Tuesday he had not reviewed the case in question and could not provide information on it or any previous cases in the city.

What he could confirm was that Jenkins was released from prison to the Department of State Hospitals- Atascadero in Feb. 2023. Jenkins was released from there in July and returned to Ione.

Alfred says police only have two calls for service related to Jenkins since July. The first was in September and the other was last week. In last week’s case, someone reported Jenkins was watching moms and kids in the park behind city hall.

Alfred says police responded to both calls and found no crime was being committed so they had no reason to detain Jenkins.

MONDAY’S STABBINGS

Alfred then detailed Monday’s three crimes and victims. He says the three victims, one of whom died, were all stabbed and had multiple stab wounds. Investigators recovered a knife from the scene.

Police believe Jenkins didn’t know the victims and the victims did not know him.

Two of the stabbings happened inside separate homes, though police were quick to say they could not classify the cases as break-ins because more follow-up was needed.

Police also could not detail a timeline or the order in which the stabbings happened, but said one victim was a man in his 20s who is in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries at a Sacramento hospital. The second victim, a PG&E employee, was treated and released from a hospital.

Police declined to identify the third victim, also the deceased, however, her family identified her at the end of the news conference as Lori Owens.

THE VICTIM: LORI OWENS

Owens’ son-in-law, James Grubbs, concluded the press conference after Alfred left the room. He identified his mother-in-law, Lori Owens, as the woman allegedly killed by Jenkins.

“Our family is here to demand justice and when we’re going to talk about justice today, justice is not just against the criminal that committed this crime. The main crime that’s been committed, or a huge part of it here, is the justice system that had failed Lori and failed all of us,” said Grubbs. “He never should’ve been free in this town again.”

Grubbs said allowing an attempted murderer parole with no supervision as a transient is unacceptable.

“Lori was a grandmother, mother, a wife, a sister and a friend to many that loved her, and she was stolen from us because of negligence and incompetence of a failed justice system,” he said.

The family is calling for an external investigation into Jenkins’ release and his supervision.

“Lori may have lost her life yesterday but we want to make sure this tragedy is used to save other lives. There must be accountability in the people who support the release of such criminals and that starts with our local police force,” said Grubbs.

He says it extends beyond the police force and goes all the way to Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom. He questioned if Newsom’s trip to China was appropriate while families grieve the loss of loved ones due to state policies.

“I can’t help but wonder if instead of being in China and touring car plants with his time, maybe his time would be better spent holding the hands of the grieving families that are here because of his failed policies and here working with our people to reform criminal releases,” said Grubbs.

A GoFundMe for the Owens family has been created and can be found HERE.

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