Louisiana Realtor killed during Facebook Marketplace sale of dirt bike, police say

HARVEY, La. — Joseph Vindel placed an ad on Facebook Marketplace, seeking to sell his red Honda dirt bike.

Vindel, 29, of New Orleans, made an appointment Sunday morning to meet with a potential buyer in Harvey, an unincorporated community across the Mississippi River from the city.

The recently licensed Realtor was never seen alive again.

Vindel’s body was found Monday inside his vehicle, which had been abandoned in the New Orleans Garden District. He had been shot to death.

Jalen Harvey, 20, of Harvey, has been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice in Vindel’s death, authorities said.

“He was loved by everyone and didn’t deserve this,” Vindel’s father, Lindsey Vindel, told WWL-TV in New Orleans on Monday.

PLEASE SHARE: Yesterday at 10 am Joseph Vindel my boyfriend went through FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE TULANE CLASSIFIEDS to sell...

Posted by Katie Kreuz on Monday, March 8, 2021

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Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said during a news conference that Joseph Vindel had placed the ad to sell his dirt bike for $2,750. Detectives later found messages between Vindel and Harvey regarding the bike sale, which was to take place at Harvey’s apartment complex, the St. Germaine Apartments.

“Mr. Vindel never returned from that transaction,” Lopinto said. “Our deputies went to that location and were able to find the dirt bike in one of the patios of one of those apartment complexes. At that point in time, they made contact with Mr. Jalen Harvey.”

Under questioning, Harvey reportedly admitted to the shooting, the sheriff said. Authorities allege that he shot Vindel multiple times and then drove the victim’s vehicle, with his body inside, to where it was found abandoned.

Watch the news conference below.

Sheriff Joseph Lopinto reports that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a homicide that occurred yesterday in Harvey. The investigation began as a missing persons case in New Orleans. At this point, our investigators have determined an initial timeline of the incident. Between 10:00 am and noon yesterday, the victim met with the suspect at an apartment complex in the 2100 block of Manhattan Boulevard to sell a dirt bike. During the course of the transaction, the suspect shot and killed the victim. The suspect then drove the victim’s vehicle to the 2300 block of Coliseum Street in New Orleans and abandoned it. The victim’s remains were still inside the vehicle. Yesterday evening, JPSO was contacted by the victim’s family and became involved in the investigation. Investigators were able to determine the victim’s last known location, and located the victim’s dirt bike at an apartment. Detectives made contact with the resident of the apartment, Jalen Harvey, 20. During questioning, Harvey admitted to shooting the victim and taking the vehicle to New Orleans. Detectives are currently seeking an arrest warrant for Jalen Harvey for First Degree Murder. The victim has been identified as Joseph Vindel, 29, of New Orleans.

Posted by Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office on Monday, March 8, 2021

Vindel never even got out of his car, Lopinto said. He was apparently killed as he sat behind the wheel.

“When (Harvey) entered the vehicle, the victim was in the front seat, and at one point (Harvey) pushed him in(to) the back seat so he could drive the vehicle properly,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jason Rivarde told People magazine. “He drove it 20 minutes away.”

Harvey then removed the dirt bike from its trailer and drove it back to his apartment.

The bike was found on Harvey’s patio, Rivarde said. The alleged murder weapon was found inside his apartment.

Detectives were still trying to determine what prompted Harvey to kill Vindel.

“I don’t care what it is. I mean, it’s a $2,800 dirt bike,” Lopinto said Monday. “It’s not anything that anybody should be shot over.”

Facebook Marketplace has become a popular way for users to buy or sell items among themselves. Law enforcement authorities offer tips for doing so safely, like meeting outside a police station or other well-lit area.

You should always let others know where you are planning to meet for the transaction and, if possible, take someone with you.

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Lopinto said you should also always follow your gut instincts.

“Look, if it doesn’t feel right, get out,” the sheriff said. “The fact of it is, you can choose your location of where you’re gonna be, and if they’re not showing up there for whatever reason, there’s somebody else you can sell it to.”

By all accounts, Vindel took safety into account by conducting the transaction in the middle of the day.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t in a location that was well-observed by people,” Lopinto said.