A New Orleans crime lab technician made a startling discovery after being called to the scene of a murder.
Alonia Singleton, 31, a forensic technician with the New Orleans Police Department, was called to the 9th Ward neighborhood of the city early in the morning of Nov. 7 due to a murder in the area, The Times-Picayune reported. She was photographing the body of the shooting victim when she spotted a tattoo of a cross on the man's back.
The tattoo jolted a sudden realization in Singleton, who then asked authorities at the scene whether the man also had a tattoo of her name, "Alonia," on his chest. They told her he did.
This confirmed Singleton's suspicion that Jonathan Dotson, her ex-boyfriend and father of her 8-year-old son, had been murdered.
The man had reportedly been shot near the back door of a home that was still under construction. About a dozen shell casings were found on the street near the body.
Immediately after investigating the scene, Singleton drove to the home of Jonathan's mother, Sheila Dotson, and delivered the bad news.
"I didn't cry because I really didn't believe it," Sheila told The Times-Picayune. "I guess I was in shock. I don't know. I've never had anyone in my family die of violence."
She said that she had last seen her son, 31, the day before on her way home from walking her dog, according to The New Orleans Advocate. Soon after, he took Sheila's cellphone and left the house. She believed someone gave him a ride.
Jonathan's current girlfriend, Likera Lee, 30, told The Times-Picayune she spoke to him over the phone around 9 or 10 p.m. on Nov. 6, but she couldn't reach him when she tried calling again at around 1:30 a.m.
Singleton met Jonathan while attending the now-defunct Frederick A. Douglass High School in New Orleans, and the two dated between 2006 and 2009. Their son, Jonathan Dotson, Jr., was born eight years ago.
"He always wanted to get married," Singleton told The Times-Picayune. "But I knew he wasn't ready."
(Picture of Jonathan Dotson with his son, Jonathan Dotson, Jr. Photo Credit: Alonia Singleton via The New Orleans Advocate)
According to family and friends who attended Dotson's funeral service on Nov. 12, he was a happy and easygoing man.
"Everybody loved Jonathan," Lee said. "He brought joy to anybody who ever crossed his path."
The man, who was nicknamed "J-Rock," grew up in the city's Bywater neighborhood. His mother said he excelled at sports as a child.
Dotson seemed to have trouble finding steady work and was mostly unemployed for the last year, friends and family said. He shucked oysters for restaurants in the French Quarter for a while and later found temporary work renovating homes.
He had also been considering a career in acting after taking a small role in a friend's independent film in June. Ironically, he played a shooting victim in the movie.
Sheila said her son was devoted to his son with Singleton, and the two spent a lot of time playing video games together.
For him, the boy "could never do no wrong," Sheila told The New Orleans Advocate.
Singleton said she is trying to shield her son from his father's violent death.
"I don't really think he fully understands," she said.
Police in New Orleans are still investigating Dotson's murder. No suspects or details about the shooting have yet been released.