Duluth murder victim described as artistic, devoted to his familyThe 28-year-old man found stabbed to death in a downtown Duluth apartment building Friday was a talented artist who was dedicated to his four young children, family members said Sunday.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The 28-year-old man found stabbed to death in a downtown Duluth apartment building Friday was a talented artist who was dedicated to his four young children, family members said Sunday.
Anna DeFoe said she was stunned to learn that her brother, Joshua “Josh” DeFoe-Olson, had been murdered within six blocks of the home she shared with him.
“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “My brother was a family man.”
DeFoe-Olson was the father of four children, including three boys, ages 5, 8 and 9; and one 10-year-old daughter.
“That’s what made Josh most happy — his kids,” said Anna DeFoe, 29. “The saddest thing is that his kids are so young and now they’ll have to grow up without their dad.”
DeFoe-Olson’s body reportedly was discovered by the resident of an apartment in the 100 block of East First Street at 8:22 a.m. Friday. Police arrested that 37-year-old man after responding to his call. They also arrested a 47-year-old Duluth man for allegedly aiding in the crime.
The Duluth News Tribune typically does not name suspects until they are formally charged.
Police reported the victim and the suspects knew one another.
Abrum Olson, Defoe-Olson’s 23-year-old brother, said his family is still trying to come to terms with the killing.
“It’s really shocking, because my brother was a good man who loved his kids. He was not some hoodlum or thug. He loved his family,” Olson said.
Olson said his brother could frequently be found horsing around with his kids and reading to them. “He was very playful and full of life.”
“We’re coming together as a family to be there for his children and to make sure they know who their father was,” Olson said.
Besides being dedicated to family, DeFoe-Olson was also passionate about art. Anna DeFoe said their father was talented at drawing, and passed that skill on to Josh.
“Art is strength in our family. It’s in our bones as Native Americans,” she said. “Josh took his talents and applied them to tattoo artistry.”
Abrum Olson said his brother often drew inspiration for his work from his Anishinaabe heritage.
“Josh was very spiritual. He was very in touch with his creator, and he instilled that in his art,” Olson said.
DeFoe said her brothers and sisters were steeped in their heritage. “We’re Native Americans, and we grew up camping, fishing, smoking fish and having fires outside.”
Olson said he hopes some good can yet come from the pain of his brother’s death.
“Josh was not just some victim. He didn’t die in vain. As a family, we’re here to make sure our brother gets justice,” he said.
Olson said Duluth’s Hillside neighborhood is poorer for the loss of his brother.
“We all grew up in Hillside, and I’m proud to be from here. But we need to come together as a community and say: We won’t allow this. Not in our backyard.”