PITTSBURGH — The night her son died, Paulette Joyce stopped over to give him dinner money and hug him goodbye.
It was a Saturday, and 23-year-old Codi Joyce was playing Xbox with his brother at their house in the southeast corner of the city. That night, “I had just stopped by at 10:30 and said, ‘Hey, guys, here’s a few bucks, order some pizza,’” Paulette recalls. She and her fiancé, Randy, were headed to a casino three hours away.
Codi was a fiercely loyal and easygoing kid. He loved sports and recording his own rap music under the moniker “Geno Prestone.” Friends and family say he made everybody laugh. And while it had taken Codi a little longer to find his path in life, he had recently decided to go to trade school.
As Paulette left her sons, she had a weird feeling that September day, a premonition that still haunts her. En route to the casino, she received texts from an unfamiliar number that said, “Gave you the num to call” and “If you are out after 2 I’ll hit you k.” She says she ignored them; it seemed like a wrong number. Now she dwells on whether calling back could have saved her son’s life.
“That text,” she says. “Maybe somebody was telling me something.”
Hours later, Codi Joyce was fatally beaten at a house party in Munhall, where a bunch of recent high-school grads partied late into the night. When EMS arrived at the brick home on Shady Avenue around 4:30 a.m., Codi was unconscious on the living room floor.
None of the partygoers called 911, the Joyce family claims. Instead, cops responded to a neighbor’s call about a commotion next door.
The Allegheny County medical examiner ruled Codi’s death a homicide and said the cause was asphyxiation due to compression of the neck, brought on by a physical altercation with multiple people.
It’s unclear what provoked the fatal attack.
According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Codi Joyce’s father—which singles out four young men, Devin Hinkle, Ryan Sabo, Connor Stevens and Derek R. Marcone—the brawl started in the kitchen over a Hot Pocket microwavable sandwich, and Codi was restrained as partygoers took turns punching and stomping him.
The complaint does not provide further details about the Hot Pocket.
Family members of the defendants have allegedly claimed the four teens acted in self-defense. According to Joyce’s uncle Steve Wisniewski, one suspect’s father approached him at a convenience store to say Codi was uninvited and out of the control at the party. Codi repeatedly punched a young woman, the relative claimed. The boys who attacked him were “heroes.” (The Daily Beast contacted families of the accused, but they all declined to speak on the record, or did not return requests for comment.)
As Wisneiwski remembers it, the relative asked him when the Joyce family would “just let [Codi’s death] go.”
But Codi Joyce’s parents are not letting it go. They are trying to keep his name alive even as, two years after the fateful party, no one has been arrested or charged with his death.
“It pisses me off because we weren’t around,” Paulette says. “That eats away at me, too. The guilt. Me and Randy always go away to the casino or something. But it eats at me so bad. ….I could have been there. I could have ran there and at least seen what happened. Had my eyes on everything.”
The Joyce family has held marches past the homes of the accused boys, and on the quiet stretch of Shady Avenue where Codi Joyce died. Months after the incident, Codi’s former girlfriend put signs in front of her home seeking tips on his case. Banners and yard signs declaring “Justice for Geno” — Codi’s nickname, after Pittsburgh Penguins player Evgeni Malkin — line Munhall’s streets and hang from windows.
Today, Codi Joyce’s parents, siblings and supporters will once again rally before the Munhall Borough Building to demand justice.
Codi’s family is still seeking answers to the multiple questions that plague his case. Why was their son admitted to the hospital under the name “Gavin Doe” when everyone at the party knew him? Who had Codi’s phone early that morning and called the hospital, using Star 67 to block his number? Why, according to the coroner’s report, did multiple people beat and choke him to death?
The Allegheny County district attorney’s office told The Daily Beast that the case remains open and refused to comment on its particulars, or on the Joyce clan’s claim that they’ve been treated more like suspects than victims. County police, citing an open investigation, declined to release their incident reports from the night of the party.
Meanwhile, life has gone on for the other families in Munhall, a borough of 11,000 people across the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh. Some of the accused have gone off to college, while one, Marcone, enlisted in the Marines soon after the party.
Codi’s father, John Joyce, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Allegheny County in May. In addition to Hinkle, Sabo, Stevens and Marcone, it also lists as defendants the girl who hosted the party, Jessica Lentz, and her father, Daniel. The case is pending.
In court records, all but one of the defendants have denied any involvement in Codi Joyce’s death. Ryan Sabo has not been served court papers because he moved out of Munhall and it’s unclear where he’s currently staying, John Joyce said. (Sabo and his relatives could not be reached by The Daily Beast.)
“Losing Codi was hard enough,” John Joyce told me. “On top of that you have two years of this fight. Where you’re exhausted, you’re the boxer in the 16th round and you’re still having to swing and stand up because the fight’s not over.”
Joyce said he’s been deprived of a future with his son. Before his death, Codi was “maturing and finding direction for himself.” The father, an Air Force veteran, added, “That’s one of the last things we talked about: you’re not cut out for college, you don’t want to go in the military, go to trade school.
“It infuriates you to no end that that’s taken away from you … and the people who took it away from you are out [acting] as if they didn’t do anything—as if they didn’t kill him.”
‘I Might Be Going To Jail Tonight’
Around midnight on September 27, 2015, Codi Joyce was still alive, drinking beers and playing a hockey game on Xbox with his younger brother, Corey, and their friends.
One pal, Jared Ruffing, said he was leaving, and Codi asked for a ride to a house party on Shady Avenue. It was on the way to Ruffing’s home.
Corey was planning to meet another group of friends in West Mifflin, a borough that neighbors Munhall, and told Codi to join him. Codi said he’d find his brother later, and they went their separate ways.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that night, according to Ruffing and Corey Joyce. Codi was in good spirits when Ruffing took him to a bar to pick up a six-pack. He then dropped Codi off at the party at Jessica Lentz’s house. As Ruffing remembers it, one of Codi’s friends had invited him to the gathering.
On social media, Codi Joyce often cracked crude jokes and invited people to watch sports and grab beers. He was active on Twitter that night. “I'm strictly trym get my member rode,” he tweeted at 12:08 a.m. At 1:24 a.m., Codi retweeted someone’s post that simply said: #TeamManBun. It was his final Twitter post.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the home on Shady Avenue was known for drinking parties, and Daniel Lentz had allegedly given his daughter permission to host such events.
(Daniel Lentz denied his house was the site of frequent drinking parties for young people, and that he or his daughter, to his knowledge, hosted them, court papers state. In a response to the civil suit, he stated that he had no “first-hand knowledge” of Codi Joyce’s fatal beatdown because he wasn’t home.)
Sometime after 1 a.m., Codi got into an argument with partygoer Connor Stevens over a Hot Pocket, the lawsuit says. Soon, Sabo, Hinkle and Marcone had joined the fray and allegedly “assisted Stevens in beating and choking [Codi] to death.”
The complaint alleges that the group inflicted head trauma on Codi, along with injuries to his spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities. It claims that while Hinkle choked Codi—resulting in “defensive bite marks on [Hinkle’s] arm”—Sabo, Stevens and Marcone took turns violently striking him. The suit says that Marcone checked Codi’s pulse after the attack but did nothing further to help him.
No one at the party, including the host Jessica Lentz, called 911 despite seeing Codi was severely injured, the complaint claims. Instead, some defendants allegedly told party guests not to phone authorities for help. (Police did not return a call seeking comment on who dialed for help, and one EMS report says officers responded to a call over a loud argument occurring at the location.)
At 4:41 a.m., Sabo sent a text message to a female friend, indicating that he and Hinkle may have killed Codi Joyce. The Daily Beast reviewed a copy of the message, and the recipient confirmed that she had received it.
“I might be going to jail tonight. Me and Dinkle might have literally killed Geno Joyce idk what condition he is in,” Sabo wrote.
Sabo also posted a selfie with a teardrop tattoo on Snapchat sometime after Codi’s death, court papers allege.“Sabo was so excited to brag about participating in the killing of [Codi Joyce] that he drew teardrops on his cheek, as if falling from his eye, representing his intentional participation in a murder similar to that of a criminal gang member initiation,” the lawsuit says.
Around 4:40 am, Munhall police arrived at the Lentz residence. When paramedics got there, Codi was lying near the front door, according to an EMS report reviewed by The Daily Beast. He was unresponsive and cops were attempting CPR. The report noted “blood on various parts of the wall, debris on the floor, and furniture pushed out of the way.”
One paramedic administered Narcan at 4:47 a.m. based on what appeared to be “venous scarring on both arms.” (An autopsy report found no drugs in Codi Joyce’s system, and a hospital report never mentioned any marks on Codi’s arms. His parents say their son drank but never did drugs as far as they know.)
Codi Joyce arrived in an ambulance at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at 5:15 a.m. and was pronounced dead a minute later, the Munhall EMS report indicates. Hospital records show he was admitted under the name “Gavin Doe,” despite being known to everyone at the party. In his report, the emergency room doctor noted that “Gavin Doe” was in cardiac arrest for 30 minutes before reaching the hospital, and that the patient had significant head trauma.
In court papers, Daniel Lentz called Joyce “a defiant trespasser” who entered the Shady Avenue house “without permission and failed to leave when demanded to [do] so.”
However, one guest at the party that night—who spoke to The Daily Beast under condition of anonymity—said Joyce was welcome at the bash. “Everyone was cool with each other,” the partygoer said, adding that the young adults there had all been friends for years.
Some of Jessica Lentz’s friends mourned Codi Joyce on social media that weekend.
“I wish this was a nightmare, #rip,” Mary Kate Early wrote on Twitter. The next day she posted, “Nothing but nightmares all night.”
Tyler Smith, who was friendly with Codi’s family, wrote, “#RIP to the dek hockey legend one of the greatest coolest people I've ever met.”
And later, Smith posted, “This is the worst feeling in the world” and “Just trying to take my mind off of it and I just can’t.”
Codi’s younger sister vented on social media, too. “You went to school with me. You knew Codi,” Kaylee Joyce wrote on Twitter, hours after learning he was dead. “How the fuck are you so bitter you could do this to another human?”
‘A Good Kid Who Had Some Troubled Years’
The boys who allegedly attacked Codi Joyce grew up right alongside him.
As children, they all played baseball and soccer together and attended each other’s birthday parties. Devin Hinkle’s father, Bryan, was Codi’s baseball coach. Daniel Lentz, who owns the house where Codi died, went to school with Paulette Joyce and her brother, Steve Wisniewski, in the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Wisniewski—who is called “Waz” or “Uncle Steve” in the neighborhood—says the incident has destroyed two generations of friendships and marked a dividing line in the Munhall community. He says his children were close friends with everyone at the party and that he celebrated holidays and Super Bowls with their parents. “This whole neighborhood, everything is just gone. The friendships are just gone,” he said.
As a young kid, in group sports with the other boys, Codi was “very humble” and “wouldn’t take credit for anything” says his grandmother Jo Wisniewski.
“If you would tell him he’s a good soccer player, he’d say, ‘No, mamaw, the whole team is doing it.’ He would rather give the spotlight to someone else,” she said.
He was also the first grandchild to call on holidays. “Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, he’d be the first one to call, and we miss that,” Jo Wisniewski added, tearing up.
But Codi Joyce struggled in his teenage years, after his parents split up and his dad moved back to his native Ohio. The divorce put a particular strain on Codi’s relationship with Paulette, and he moved out of her house.
During high school, Codi shuttled between the homes of friends and his uncle Steve, who treated him like a son. “I told him, ‘Hey, this isn’t the bus station.’ I wouldn’t see him for a few days. He’d pop in, take a shower. I said, ‘Codi, if we’re going to do this, you need some more time here. It’s not a way station where you take off for two or three days,’” Steve Wisniewski told The Daily Beast.
Codi tried living in Cincinnati with his father, but his friends and relatives in Munhall called him home in his sophomore year.
He crashed with Jill Welsh, whose son Brandon was Codi’s best friend. “When his parents got divorced, his whole world fell apart in front of him,” Welsh told The Daily Beast. “He was a teenager. It was a bunch of stuff all together. But he had a good heart. He was a good kid. Because if he wasn’t a good person, all these people wouldn’t be standing behind him...if he was a bad kid, I wouldn’t have brought him into my home.”
“He was loved. He was a character,” she added. “He was charming, he was good-looking. I mean, the girls loved him.”
“I would come home from work and him and my son would be laying on chaise longues in their gym shorts in the front yard, tanning themselves with half the neighborhood girls driving by.”
“If you knew him … you just wanted to love him,” she added. “He was just a good kid who had some troubled years, but he was loved. He’s so, so missed.”
When Brandon got a girlfriend and Codi became the third wheel, Codi moved in with his friend Jake Laird. Jake’s mother, Donna, said Codi became a son to her, too.
Donna Laird remembers asking her son, “What’s the story with this kid, Codi?” She asked why he slept over so often. He told her that Joyce was “kind of homeless.”
“What I found out later [was that] he was skipping around. I said to my son, ‘Where is he tonight? He hasn’t been here the last two days … You tell him he’s welcome here any time.”
Codi dropped out of high school and got his GED. But he “had a big heart” and “never once caused a scene or misbehaved,” Laird said.
Codi had only two known run-ins with the law—as a 19-year-old, he was convicted of criminal mischief (for chucking a rock at a rival’s vehicle) and at age 20, he pleaded guilty to one case of misdemeanor simple assault.
By his early 20’s, Codi’s rocky relationship with his mother was finally starting to heal. “That’s the hardest part for my mom,” Kaylee Joyce said. “She will never be able to be able to mend that relationship.”
Codi’s siblings looked up to their big brother as a joker and an advisor, who “made light of bad situations” but “was serious if you needed him to be.”
“Every day I imagine what advice he'd give me if he were still here or what we'd be doing together if he were still here,” Corey Joyce told The Daily Beast. “I always picture him with me when I’m doing things.”
As the Joyce family seeks answers, Codi’s surrogate families have also pressed authorities on the case.
Earlier this year, Welsh launched a Change.org petition seeking help in Codi’s case from Governor Tom Wolf. “Our community feels very strongly that someone in the county is covering for one or more of the murderers,” she wrote. “We have lost complete faith in the process of our justice system and those that can control the investigation at will with seemingly no oversight.”
Soon after, someone named Jeff Bloomguld—which Welsh believes is a fake name—commented on the petition to mock her effort.
“You people are so pathetic,” Bloomguld posted. “18 months ago, an out of control animal got killed at a party in self defense. Let it go.”
‘If I Go Down, I Love You’
Police had already arrived at the home on Shady Avenue when Ryan Sabo sent his text message to a female friend worrying he’d land in jail.
“I might be going to jail tonight. Me and Dinkle might have literally killed Geno Joyce idk what condition he is in,” he wrote.
“When we left he was out cold. If I go down, I do love you,” Sabo added.
By the next night, Sabo got back in touch with the woman, who said that he asked her to delete the texts. “I know u are probably hearing so much and so many stories but I told u the truth,” Sabo wrote, allegedly referring to a phone call he’d had with the woman. “I never kicked him when he was down and he was still standing and screaming after me and him fought. Whatever Dinkle and him ended up doing I wasn’t even in the house for this.
“This will be the last connection I have with you because I can’t talk or trust anyone right now cause of all the made up shit that’s going around.”
The woman confirmed to The Daily Beast that Sabo sent her these messages but asked to remain anonymous for her own privacy.
“I knew Ryan [Sabo] and I’ve known him my whole life. We were in classes together ... and I know that he didn’t intentionally hurt [Codi Joyce] or kill him,” she said. “I think it really was just an accident. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it was an accident or not, because he’s dead and somebody should be held accountable.”
As news of Joyce’s death spread, Sabo’s relatives called her and also told her to delete the messages, the woman said. But she didn’t. Soon after, she says, police showed up at her house. A detective knew she had an incriminating message on her phone and demanded to see it. Fearing she’d get in trouble for withholding evidence, she showed the officer her phone but he didn’t confiscate it.
The woman said she tried going to Allegheny County police on multiple occasions regarding the texts from Sabo but that they ignored her. (Police did not return messages seeking comment on her claims.)
She says detectives finally interviewed her in February 2016, about five months after Codi Joyce’s death. Cops had allegedly never told Steve Wisniewski and the Joyce family about the existence of Sabo’s texts; instead, the woman ran into Wisniewski and told him about the texts herself, and added that she’d been trying to reach Allegheny County detectives for months, to no avail. So Wisniewski gave her a lift to the police station.
Once there, the woman was rattled by the experience, having never been in trouble with the law and not wanting to be involved in a criminal probe.
“When I got there the first time, they shooed us away. If they really cared, they’d say, ‘Alright we can take you now. Just wait here a couple minutes.’ They were extremely rude. They treated us so horribly. I seen it myself,” she told The Daily Beast.
“It seems like they look at Steve and Codi’s family like a burden. They’re annoyed by them because they keep trying to find information,” she added.
After cops finally did interview her, they called her back and said the recorder hadn’t been working. She returned for a second interview.
In April 2016, Codi Joyce’s parents met with assistant Allegheny County prosecutor Kevin Chernosky for a status update on the case. Chernosky informed them they wouldn’t press charges but the case would be left open.
Paulette and John claim that when they met with Chernosky, they weren’t allowed to record the conversation or have an attorney present.
The Allegheny County DA’s office declined to comment but issued a statement to The Daily Beast on Codi Joyce’s case.
“Our office understands the deep personal loss that the family and friends of Codi Joyce are feeling and we appreciate their frustration at not having answers to all of their questions,” spokesman Mike Manko said in an email.
The investigation “remains open” and prosecutors will review any new evidence that is discovered as part of the case.
Manko said the prosecutor’s office, and officials with the Allegheny County Police Department, have “communicated with the family on multiple occasions and we have been clear in telling them on multiple occasions that based on the evidence available at this time, we are unable to file charges and proceed to prosecution.”
‘They Were All Beating On Him’
In September 2016, five days after the Joyce family had marched through Munhall to raise awareness on Codi’s case, Steve Wisniewski was leaving the CoGo's convenience store when he noticed someone watching him from the parking lot. It was the father of one of the young men who had allegedly attacked Codi. They ducked into the post office next door to talk for 45 minutes, debating what had happened to Codi Joyce that night.
Steve told the father that the medical examiner had ruled Codi’s death a homicide, and demanded that the four boys “step up” and take responsibility, “and be men, because this is a murder.” The father allegedly responded, “You know, those guys would have been heroes if they didn’t kill Codi.” The father added that Codi had been acting like a raging lunatic, trying to beat up a girl named Angel Hinkle (no relation to Devin Hinkle), and that the four young men had intervened.
“I said, ‘That’s pretty funny. If they were fearing for their lives, someone would have called 911,’” Wisniewski recalls.
The father allegedly told Wisniewski that everyone at the party had participated in the police investigation and that the town was tired of the Joyce family’s public push for arrests.
“When does this go away?” the father allegedly asked. Steve replied, “If it was your son, would it ever go away?”
Angel Hinkle did not return messages left by The Daily Beast asking for insight on the feud between Codi and the other young men at the party.
But one partygoer told The Daily Beast that Angel Hinkle was not targeted by Codi Joyce that night.
The young man, who requested anonymity, said he was friends with both Codi and the defendants. He said he’d been drinking heavily at Lentz’s party and fell asleep in a bedroom. At one point, he woke to a commotion and found Codi and Connor Stevens fighting. He said he decided to pull people outside and try to break up the scuffle because it was getting “out of hand.”
Some of the women at the party—including Angel Hinkle—were also trying to break up the fight, the man said, and Angel got hit in the face during the chaos. (According to Wisniewski, supporters of the defendants told him Codi was belligerent and wailing on Angel, so the young men knocked him out in self defense.)
“Angel Hinkle got punched in the skirmish. It wasn’t like [Codi] directly tried to hit her. It was like he accidentally hit her, and that’s whenever things got out of hand,” the insider added.
“They were really going at [Codi] … choking him and had him on the couch and they were all beating on him. It was very brutal and aggressive and uncalled for,” said the partygoer, adding that Codi was “pretty much motionless … and they’re still just continuously hitting him.”
Everyone was wasted and out of control and “maybe they let their emotions get past them,” the man claimed. “It was just a fight that got too far.” Still, he doesn’t believe that the alleged killers had it out for Codi Joyce.
The man said he spoke to cops four times but it seemed as though detectives “didn’t want to believe me and go more in depth into it.”
“The police just treated this like nothing happened and that they are trying to ignore it completely,” the partygoer continued. “It seems like they had no interest in pursuing the case. Each time all they did was interview me and asked for names of people who they could contact, nothing else besides that.”
The partygoer said people won’t tell the truth about what happened to Codi Joyce because all the girls were close to Jessica Lentz, whom he described as Devin Hinkle’s longtime girlfriend. “They wouldn’t want to cross Jess by throwing people under the bus,” the pal claims. “It’s just the friendship with them that just kills it.”
He said that when he sees Codi Joyce’s friends, he gets dirty looks as though he didn’t do anything to break up the fight and save Codi’s life.
“The whole community just got a whole line drawn through it. It’s awful. It really is,” he said. “Everyone who has something to say won’t do it. That’s what kills this whole situation and why nothing’s probably happening.”
When asked why no one allegedly called 911, the man said, “It was an in-the-moment thing. This is a party. Why would we call the cops? … No one really thought to call police.”
The partygoer said that after the fight, he panicked, and ran two blocks over to Steve Wisniewski’s house and pounded on his door but no one answered. He saw cop cars whizzing past and decided to go home.
“After that, my phone was dead and everything,” he said. “I kind of went home after that because there was nothing to do. I couldn’t get help. I tried.”
Later that morning, a group of witnesses gathered at Wisniewski’s house.
“I kept on asking those guys that morning. I said, ‘So where was everybody as Codi was getting outnumbered,’” Wisniewski told The Daily Beast. He says they clammed up. One partygoer said he had to escort Angel Hinkle out of the house. Another guy said he was sound asleep upstairs during the melee.
“Nothing added up,” Wisniewski says. “I wasn’t satisfied with anything anybody told me.”
‘Geno, Stop Fighting, Just Stop Just Stop’
In the days after Codi’s death, partygoers reached out to the Joyce family via text and social media.
In a text message to Corey Joyce, reviewed by The Daily Beast, Colin Kamensky said he was outside having a cigarette with Ryan Sabo when they heard screams inside the house.
“I don’t remember what happened to Sabo after that,” Kamensky wrote. “I know I heard Devin Hinkle’s voice yelling, and people are saying Derek Marcone was a part of the jumping but I watched him check his pulse after, and Derek isn’t even the type of kid. I promise you that’s all I know.”
Another friend, Connor Langan, gave a more detailed account. (Langan did not respond to requests for comment.) He texted Kaylee Joyce saying, “Do you hate me. I feel like you heard the wrong story.”
“Right now I’m not sure what the story is and who to trust,” she replied.
Langan told Kaylee that Codi Joyce was on the porch for most of the party but at 4:30 a.m. he started brawling with Connor Stevens.
“Devin Hinkle came in and Ryan Sabo to break it up,” Langan texted. “Connor was off Codi in less than 2 minutes. Dev then had Codi in a choke hold in the living room saying, ‘Geno, stop fighting, just stop just stop.’”
When Codi tried to break away, Hinkle “snapped and started saying, ‘I don’t fuck with you anymore, I don’t fuck with you,’ then Devin just threw over 10 punches just punching him in the head repeatedly,” Langan wrote.
Codi was “protecting himself so he started throwing punches and was hitting anyone in sight because he didn’t know what was happening,” Langan added. “Everyone was trying so hard to get Devin off. Everyone was panicking. Girls were hoping [sic] in trying to get everyone off. Nothing was working.”
Langan told Kaylee Joyce that he saw three big streaks of blood on the wall and didn’t want to see anymore, so he hurried out of the house with some other partygoers. He said he called Hinkle, who asked for a ride home.
Langan added that in the car, Devin Hinkle told him he’d run from the house because he didn’t want a citation for underage drinking, but that he was going to get his brothers and beat up Codi the next day.
“That’s the last thing he said until I dropped him off,” Langan wrote.
After Codi was buried, the Joyce family tried to seek their own leads on why Codi had died.
John Joyce claims Allegheny County investigators did little to reach out to his family or keep them posted on the homicide probe. And what little information the Joyces received didn’t match up with partygoers’ texts to Codi’s siblings, he said.
Still, he felt some relief in November 2015, when cops said the case was turned over to the district attorney’s office. Around that time, the Joyce family attached screenshots of the text messages in emails to assistant prosecutor Chernosky.
“From the beginning, we have had very minimal discussions with the homicide detectives, local and county law enforcement, and medical personnel,” John Joyce wrote in a letter to assistant prosecutor Chernosky. “Answers to questions were extremely vague and lacked substance due to the pending investigation.
“You sometimes assume television shows somewhat depict reality, where the victim’s family is in constant communication with the authorities, but we have been in the dark mostly through this entire process,” Joyce wrote.
Joyce questioned why police made no initial arrests when a body was found at the Shady Avenue residence, and why cellphones weren’t seized.
The father also claimed he couldn’t even get a hospital report at first. Weeks after Codi Joyce’s death, an administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center informed John Joyce that there was no record of Codi ever being admitted there.
“Because there was no treatment at Mercy Hospital or even a record of registration, there are no records to be released from Mercy. The death certificate states that Codi was taken to the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner,” the staffer wrote, according an email reviewed by The Daily Beast.
A few weeks later, John Joyce asked the hospital to check for a “Gavin Doe” at the advice of the medical examiner’s office. Finally, in December 2015, the hospital modified Codi Joyce’s emergency room report with his real name and mailed it to John Joyce.
For her part, Paulette Joyce amassed her own dossier with text messages sent to her children and Facebook messages from neighbors, including some who claimed Codi Joyce left in a coroner’s body bag, not an ambulance. (Those residents did not return messages left by The Daily Beast.)
“We’re the ones that have to get everything together. Do all this paperwork and everything and do their job,” Paulette Joyce said.
As the case remains open with the Allegheny County police and the DA, the Joyces have asked the Munhall police department to investigate. In October 2016, Munhall cops interviewed one girl who attended the party but had never been questioned by county police, Joyce said. But even that effort has apparently stalled.
The family has written to the FBI, the state attorney general, TV shows like Dateline and Dr. Phil. “You name it, we did it,” Jo Wisniewski said. John Joyce even met with a psychic medium, who had a vision of Munhall’s Main Street and said a pair of black boots with DNA evidence were in the killer’s closet.
In the meantime, the activism for Codi Joyce and local press coverage of the death has sparked hostility between his family’s supporters and the accused’s families, who haven’t spoken publicly about the incident.
Wisniewski says he found a nail in his tire after giving an interview to a local TV station, while family friend Jill Welsh says her “Justice for Geno” banner was stolen from her second-story balcony. Welsh also claimed harassment by Devin Hinkle’s father, Bryan, who lives down the street from her, but those charges were dismissed. (Bryan Hinkle declined to comment for this story.)
Meanwhile, someone posted yearbook photos of the partygoers on social media with the word “murderer” in bold red letters. Sometime later, a vandal spray-painted the epithet on the sidewalk in front of a house belonging to the grandparents of one of the accused killers, Ryan Sabo. The black paint used to cover it up remains on the pavement.
“There is a lot of divide in the community,” John Joyce, told The Daily Beast.
On Friday afternoon, Joyce started his drive from Cincinnati to Munhall, for another march in Codi’s honor. He’d packed a giant sign with a photo of his son’s face.
“I’m thinking, ‘Wow, I’m still using this poster and the ‘Justice for Geno’ T-shirts after two years. I’m wearing out the shirt from washing it every time we do something,” Joyce said.
“The pain. It’s never gonna go away.”