Last year, I wrote about Adeline Bagley Buice, a brave woman who was sent north by the Union Army during the Civil War (along with many other Roswell woolen mill workers) and spent five years walking home. She’s buried in Sharon Baptist Church Cemetery in Forsyth County, Ga.
At some point during the two occasions I visited that cemetery last spring, I took a lot of random photos. I looked to see if any were already posted on Find a Grave. For those without a memorial, I created one and posted the photo.
Most of the time after I do this, nothing happens. Once in a blue moon, I get an e-mail from someone thanking me for helping them locate a family member they’d been looking for. The amazing story of Carrie Turner is one of those occasions.
A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from a woman named Jenn. She wanted to thank me for photographing a grave and creating a memorial for a young man named Joshua Stulick.
The name was not familiar to me so I looked him up. He had died in 1992 at the age of 19 for reasons I didn’t know at the time. I do remember his tender age had stood out to me.
Thank you so very much for your post of a grave for Joshua Stulick. I have looked for so very long to find him. At last I have it because of you. There was no goodbye when he was tragically killed. Now at least I can visit. Thank you! It means a lot.
I took a moment to Google Joshua’s name to find out what happened. Tragically, he was murdered late at night in a park in Staten Island, N.Y. in April 1992. His murder remained unsolved for many years.
According to an article in The Staten Island Advance, Joshua went to a friend’s house for drinks after finishing his shift in the hospital cafeteria where he worked. From there, he and some other people went to Ingram Woods (a nearby park) to continue drinking.
On April 28, 1992, Joshua’s body was found by a man walking his dog. It was covered in the park’s underbrush. He had a fatal stab wound to the throat and was wrapped in the interior lining of a car trunk.
Suspicion quickly fell on James Russell, a co-worker Joshua knew from the hospital. Russell was on probation for a felony assault conviction when Joshua was killed. In that case, Russell had plead guilty to a 1989 attack.
The trunk lining Joshua was found wrapped in was thought to have belonged to Russell’s 1986 Pontiac Grand Am, which was impounded. But no other evidence was found. Russell claimed he knew nothing about what had happened, was released and the case froze up. Russell went on to become an oncology radiologist at the hospital and he got married.
In 2005, after 13 years, an anonymous female witness came forward. Based on what she said, Russell was arrested and later charged with second degree murder. He initially plead not guilty.
In December 2007, after spending several months in jail, Russell changed his story. He claimed that he and Stulick were drinking and doing drugs that April day before they took their party to Ingram Park. There, he said, the two of them started to “fool around with knives that we each had, playing karate moves and lunging and sparring with each other.”
“Joshua lunged at me as I was swinging my arm with the knife, and I cut him,” Russell admitted. “To my horror, the knife cut into Joshua Stulick’s throat.”
He said he covered the body in Ingram Woods and left after realizing that “everyone would blame me no matter what I said.”
Justice Stephen J. Rooney sent Russell to prison for a minimum of three and a half years up to a maximum seven years under an agreement by which Russell pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. Had he been found guilty of second-degree murder, he might have faced a lifetime jail sentence. As part of the deal, he was not allowed to appeal his sentence.
Joshua’s mother, Kathleen Melchers, was justifiably outraged and said so at James Russell’s sentencing:
Your actions of cold violence not only took my son’s life, but to drag his body onto a car trunk liner and lay him on the ground behind a rock for two days until being found by someone walking a dog, is an act of sensitivity coming from a wicked heart and extreme lack of respect for the human body and soul.
As a mother of a son myself, I felt disbelief and anger when I read about James Russell’s plea deal. Yes, he was finally brought to justice but it is bittersweet. His sentencing took place in 2007 so he’s probably out walking the streets again as I write this.
There are few articles about Joshua online. I think Kathleen lives in North Georgia, which explains why he’s buried in Forsyth County. I emailed Jenn back to ask her if she would like to share some of her memories of Joshua. She said she might be able to do so at a later time. The memories are still very painful.
By reading the comments following an article about the trial, I learned that Joshua was in a band called Section 8. One of his friends left this comment:
I can’t stop thinking of his father waiting for Josh to come home from work and not knowing his son was dead. How could James Russell just leave his FRIEND there? If he was afraid, how about an anonymous call to the police and save Josh’s family and friends 15 years of wondering why?
Nothing will ever bring Josh back, will never pay for the life that was taken-so much potential wasted-what he could have become, and he would have grown up to be. I hope his family finds peace and takes some comfort that some justice was finally served.
There’s a lot about Joshua Stulick I will never know. I do know that he deserved more time on this earth than he got.
Nineteen years is not enough.
Kathleen Melchers said:
I wanted to say thank you for this story. Knowing Joshua’s life touched many is a blessing that God continues to touch my heart. It is going to be 22 years this Sunday, April 27th when his soul went to be with the Lord in Heaven.
The longsuffering was a walk no person should have to go through but God had his hand on many people and assigned a God appointed team in Staten island, which I still count them all dear to my heart. The Team was truly assigned to Joshua’s case. The God I serve took care of the judgement, hurting hearts, and the ability to forgive. I will see him in heaven; no tears or hurts every again. I have learned to love others in a special way as I know that is what Joshua would want me to do.
Joshua’s mother always.
PS Jenn thank you for caring about Joshua.
Joshua loved to laugh and loved life.
I have tears in my eyes writing this. Joshua’s story does indeed continue to touch others. I hope that by sharing it, more people will come to know what a special young man he was. I am so glad to hear that you are healing, and finding continued support and comfort in God’s love. I know some day you will indeed hold Joshua in your arms again and hear his laughter.
God bless you,
Robin S said:
Thank you for writing about this and putting Josh’s resting place up.No, he will never be forgotten and how he died wont either by many of us who knew him and his friends.
I came across this article today and could not believe someone cared that he did die so young. He was. my godson and very precious little boy. Have been thinking of him because his birthday is coming up on September 10th, he would have been 42 this year. My only peace is that he is with our Lord and hopefully singing for the angels. Aunt Bonnie.
Bonnie, thank you for writing. I will never forget Joshua and I am so glad you found this story about him. He is why I do what I do. Much love to you and your family.
Kathleen Melchers said:
I would like to say, it means so much to me, his Mother, when those who were a part of Joshua’s life, continue to encourage me, by these sweet notes, that his life & his love, had touched them.
We will see him again in heaven and then, no more tears, no more goodbyes but rather in the presence of angles, heaven & our Lord. Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
God Bless all who have sent these notes & loved Joshua.
May the Lord Bless you all.
His Mom always,
Mike Arguelles said:
I went to Curtis High School with Josh and briefly played in a band with him, ( “Section 8” ) He was a good guy and his own person. I last spoke with him over the phone shortly before he was to move down south. The move never got to happen. I often think about Josh, ( he was a good friend to me ) how he got cheated his due time and my heart goes out to his family and fellow friends. May you rest in peace Josh. See you on the other side Brother.
I want to apologize for not responding sooner to your kind note. It was wonderful to hear from someone who knew and loved Joshua. I plan on writing a new version of this blog post that will include these memories of him. Thank you so much.
Kathleen Melchers said:
Please let me know when you write the new blog post. I am so encouraged that Joshua’s life is still touching others. Please thank Mike Arguelles for his kind words. They make me smile when reading them. Knowing people are still thinking of him. Time does not remove memories and relationships, only missing him continues but the kinds words let me know he had an impact on many. It is true, the spirit lives on. Praise God.
Joshua’s Mom always
Hi, Kathleen! I got a very kind email from Jenn last week with some memories of Joshua. So I will be writing an updated version of my blog post soon. Would you be willing to email me a photo of Joshua to include in the update? If not, I totally understand but if you are, you can send it to email@example.com. I am glad the comments here give you comfort. Joshua’s life continues to make an impact.
If you re-visit this page I just want you too know that he is remembered and missed so much. I want you to know that he was selfless in some ways and cared to do the right thing by me. I still have a hard time dealing with this. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Please be well.
Jennifer Jimenez said:
Remembering Josh this holiday season. I miss you.
Mary Kettyle-Mandry said:
Thank you for this!!! I can only feel like this is a “visit” from Josh. He was a wonderful, kind, caring human being whos time on this Earth was tragically cut short. I knew him from work at SIUH and he was so supportive to me as i went through my Dad passing from cancer. Tje morning after my Dad passed i received roses from Josh letting me know he was there if i needed him..such a gentleman…always!!! 7 months later he was gone too. Over the last 26 years i have thought of him often and “felt ” his supportive presence when i needed him. Seeing a photo of his resting place broke me. I have known.he was gone for many years..but seeing his headstone made it real. My heart continues to break for his family…his Dad and Mom..and his baby sister….he was so proud to show me her picture . A beautiful heart and soul taken home to God too soon for us. May you always Rest in Peace Josh!
Mary, thank you so much for sharing your memories of Josh here. I am always thrilled to learn more about this special young man. Your words just confirm what a loving, sensitive person he was and how much he cared about those around him. I don’t know if you read the updated version I posted that includes some comments from his sweet mom Kathy (who I got to talk to on the phone) and other friends.
You can find it here: https://adventuresincemeteryhopping.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/nineteen-years-is-not-enough-revisiting-the-life-of-joshua-stulick/
Thank you so much for stopping by today. It’s further proof that Joshua’s life did indeed mean something and he is not forgotten by those he loved.
Wendy Drake said:
I think of Josh pretty much every day. Josh was one of the greatest people I have ever had the honor of calling a friend. He lives on in all of us who knew and loved him and many of us speak of him often when together. There are times I still expect him to walk into a room. Time has gone on for us, Josh will always be 19 and that is truly one of the things that makes me so very sad and angry. I tell my children about him, what a good friend he was and how he could make you laugh over the smallest simplest thing. Josh will always be loved, spoken of and prayed for. He will always be in my heart and remembered with love and laughter. Whenever I park in a certain way, I can hear him laughing and it makes me laugh too.