Josianne Thomas kneels at the grave of her two eldest children Joscelyn and Johnny, who were 16 and 14 when they were murdered in the fall of 2015 in an attack by Joscelyn's boyfriend. Josianne survived being stabbed more than 12 times in the same attack. She visits the cemetery weekly, often with her two surviving children, now four-year-old twins Tiffany and Hailey. "It feels like I should have a calling for something, some reason why I'm still here," she said.
Devonte Brown, then 16, is wheeled out of the courtroom after being arranged before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ian English Thursday, October 8, 2015, on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, and other charges for stabbing to death his estranged girlfriend and her brother, and injuring their mother Josianne Thomas on August 10, 2015. He was certified to stand trial as an adult and entered an Alford Plea. Judge English found Brown guilty of two counts of aggravated murder for the slayings, sentencing him to life in prison as well as an additional 22 years for the attempted murder of Thomas. Now 17, Brown is currently the only juvenile in Lucas County serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"People forget, and I just don't want them to ever be forgotten," Josianne Thomas said of her two murdered children Joscelyn Jones, 16, left, and Johnny Jones III, 14, right. Both teens were killed by Joscelyn's former boyfriend Devonte Brown in an attack at their home that lasted hours in August, 2015. Now, their mother is struggling to make sense of why she survived more than a dozen stab wounds in the same attack. Often she says she feels like she's ready to die now and see her children again. "It's much harder the second year," she said.
Josianne struggles with the guilt of having outlived her two eldest children, who were murdered in a brutal attack by her daughter's boyfriend in August, 2015. She and her husband Mike, not pictured, work hard to care for her remaining children, twin girls Hailey , center left, and Tiffany, right, then three-years-old, often with the help of her father David Page, left. Still, Josianne often worries she's not engaging enough with the kids.
Josianne Thomas visits the graves of her two eldest children Joscelyn and Johnny, weekly, often with her two surviving children, three-year-old twins Tiffany and Hailey, pictured. "I want to be with Johnny and Joscelyn in heaven but I know I need to be here with Hailey and Tiffany," she said. "It feels like I should have a calling for something, some reason why I'm still here."
Mike Thomas, left, helps his wife Josianne clam their daughter Hailey down during a late-night temper tantrum as Hailey and her twin sister Tiffany, both four, color together at the family's kitchen table. Though the twins were sleeping in bed with Josianne when she was attacked, they were unharmed. Josianne concentrates on doing the best she can for the pair, though she says it's sometimes hard to focus on the girls when she becomes overwhelmed with the weight of losing her two eldest children.
Josianne Thomas survived more than a dozen stab wounds, including two to the side of her neck, pictured, in the August 10, 2015, attack by Devonte Brown at her home in Toledo. Brown was the former boyfriend of Josianne's 16-year-old daughter Joscelyn who died as a result of the attack, along with Josianne's son Johnny Jones III, 14.
Mike Thomas sleeps with his twin four-year-old daughters, though his wife's side of the bed remains empty at about two in the morning. Josianne Thomas was sleeping with her daughters in bed on August 10, 2015, when she was attacked by Devonte Brown, who was then 16. Brown stabbed Josianne more than a dozen times, murdered her son Johnny Jones III, 14, and assaulted and raped her daughter Joscelyn, 16, in the same attack. Joscelyn later died as a result of her injuries, though the twins were unharmed. Brown in serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. After the attack Josianne often has trouble sleeping. The twins still sleep with Josianne and Mike, but Josianne says she often stays up into the early hours of the morning. "I have to be totally exhausted so I don't dream," she said.
Josianne Thomas, left, and her husband Mike Thomas, center, are stoic at the plea agreement hearing for Devonte Brown, 17, right, Friday, June 3, 2016, before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ian English. Brown entered an Alford plea and was found guilty by Judge English of two counts of aggravated murder and one count each of attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, and failure to comply with the order of a police officer in the Aug. 10, 2015, attack on Joscelyn Jones, 16, her brother, Johnny Jones III, 14, and their mother, Josianne Thomas, 37. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to committing a crime, but acknowledges evidence is sufficient for a conviction that could result in a more severe sentence. The court treats it as a guilty plea. As part of Brown's plea agreement, two counts of murder and one count of aggravated robbery were dismissed. Judge English sentenced Brown to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Josianne Thomas speckles inside the home she and her husband Mike bought about half an hour outside of Toledo. Josianne was sleeping in bed with her two-year-old twin daughters when she stabbed more than a dozen times by the boyfriend of her eldest daughter, who murdered Josianne's two eldest children in the same attack. After she was released from the hospital Josianne said she knew she couldn't live in their family's North Toledo house anymore. She and Mike moved out of Toledo and are working to rebuild their lives with their two surviving children.
Josianne Thomas, center, her father David Page, left, and her mother Brenda Hendricks, right, cry together as Josianne's daughter, Joscelyn Jones, has her story read aloud at the Northwest Ohio Silent Witness Project Unveiling Ceremony Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in Maumee. Sponsored by the Women's Center at Bowling Green State University, the annual event is held to remember the girls and women in Lucas County who have been killed by intimate partners or stalkers in the past decade. Each woman has a silhouette unveiled with a volunteer to read their story aloud. This year Joscelyn, who was 16 at the time of her death, was included among the women.
"I trusted him. I took him to the zoo with my kids this time last year. I let him live with my family," Josianne Thomas said of the teenager who dated and then murdered her daughter and teenage son in August of 2015. Ms. Thomas, who survived the same attack that claimed the lives of her two eldest children, visits the cemetery weekly. She often speaks directly to her deceased daughter Joscelyn and son Johnny as well. "I just wish you were both still here," she said, "or that I was in heaven with you." Her twin daughters Hailey and Tiffany, pictured, were three years old at the time of the attack. As they grow, their memory of the event has faded, along with memories of their slain siblings.