The rapper known as XXXTentacion, whose real name was Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, was a highly influential and controversial figure in the world of hip hop. He was murdered in a targeted robbery on June 18, 2018. Prior to his death, Onfroy was considered one of the most promising young hip hop artists, having influenced other young stars such as Billie Eilish and Juice Wrld. He was only 20 years old when he died.
What Happened on June 18, 2018?
On June 18, 2018, at about 3:30 p.m., Onfroy visited RIVA Motorsports, an upscale seller of boats and motorcycles in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He had first gone to his bank to withdraw money. He left the store and got into his car, attempting to leave the parking lot. However, an SUV pulled in front of him, blocking his exit.
Several men exited the SUV and threatened Onfroy, demanding that he give them his bag and chain. They stole a Louis Vuitton bag containing $50,000 as well as the chain. During the altercation, Onfroy’s uncle, who had gone with him to browse motorcycles, fled the scene.
When the men had completed the robbery, it seemed as though they were going back to their car. But then one man stood in front of Onfroy’s car and fired his rifle six times. The bullets struck Onfroy in the neck. They then fled.
Firefighters from the Broward County Fire Department arrived on the scene and transported Onfroy to Broward Health North. He was in critical condition after being struck several times in the neck. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate him at the hospital; they were briefly able to regain vital signs, but Onfroy’s condition deteriorated soon after. He was officially declared dead at 5:30 p.m.
Investigators believed that the rapper’s murder was targeted. Security footage of the RIVA Motorsports showed the murderers’ SUV following Onfroy. Allen and Williams went into the store after Onfroy and his uncle; authorities have said that their goal was to ensure that they had the correct victim. After buying two black masks, they exited the store and waited for Onfroy in the parking lot.
At first, authorities did not know who had committed the murder. Several high-profile rappers were investigated, largely because of their public disputes with Onfroy. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office put out an announcement offering a $3,000 bounty reward for information about the killers. Onfroy’s fans also offered theories on social media.
Among the names of the early accused were local rappers Soldier Kidd and Soldier Jojo. The accusations were largely based on Instagram accounts that the public found suspicious, as they included specific details of Onfroy’s murder.
On June 20, 2018, police performed a routine traffic stop on a 2004 silver Honda. The driver was 22-year-old Dedrick Devonshay Williams. Police became suspicious of Williams when they noticed his clothing, which matched the clothes of one of the men on the surveillance video. This included a distinctive white tank top and bright orange sandals.
Employees from RIVA identified Williams as one of the men who had come in to buy a mask. Over the following weeks, three more men were arrested: 22-year-old Robert Allen, 20-year-old Trayvon Newsome, and 22-year-old Michael Boatwright.
Boatwright was initially arrested on drug charges unrelated to Onfroy’s murder. However, once he was in jail, his phone was searched. His search history included the queries “XXXTentacion” and “accessory to murder”.
He was later identified as the man who had pulled the trigger, making him the primary person responsible for Onfroy’s death.
As of December 2022, the trial of the four men remains ongoing. In June 2018, Dedrick Williams was the first to be arrested. He first denied that he had been involved in Onfroy’s murder; later he confessed to having taken part, saying that he was sick with guilt over the rapper’s death but had refused to speak because he worried about being a “snitch.” Williams was charged with probation violation and dangerous and depraved first-degree murder.
Authorities believe that Michael Boatwright was the individual who pulled the trigger, killing Onfroy. He was charged with premeditated first-degree murder.
Several weeks after the first two arrests, Robert Allen was arrested at his sister’s home in Georgia. He was also charged with premeditated first-degree murder. The fourth man, Trayvon Newsome, was arrested at the beginning of August 2018 and charged with premeditated first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon.
Investigators researching the case discovered that Williams had been on probation at the same time as Onfroy in January 2018. They believed that Williams had spotted Onfroy’s car in the parking lot of the RIVA store and recognized it as belonging to the rapper. He then called the other men to the scene and suggested that they should follow Onfroy into the store to confirm his identity before committing the robbery.
A grand jury indicted all four men for the murder of Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy. Robert Allen negotiated a reduction of his sentence to second-degree murder, agreeing to testify against the other men in return. Michael Boatwright’s attorneys, meanwhile, have argued that he is incompetent to stand trial. His pyschological review remains ongoing.
Onfroy’s father has called for the men to be executed by the state of Florida. Capital punishment is still practiced in Florida, making it a distinct possibility if they receive the maximum sentence for first-degree murder.
Fans quickly constructed a memorial at the site where Onfroy was killed. Shock and outrage followed the case, especially as the perpetrators remained at large. Florida police were helped by fans on social media, many of whom were eager to follow the threads of high-profile figures who were known to have feuds with Onfroy.
The owner of RIVA Motorsports helped set up a public memorial to Onfroy, and hundreds of fans showed up to pay their respects. Reportedly, so many people attended that police were forced to close the street. Memorials also took place at Onfroy’s home in Parkland, Florida. In addition to pictures, flowers, and other memorabilia, fans also drew chalk art and wrote lyrics from Onfroy’s songs.
Podcaster and internet personality Adam22 also held a memorial for the rapper in Los Angeles. Here, so many people showed up to pay their respects that police eventually cleared the crowd by force; reportedly, they used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse more than a thousand mourners. Some reports claim that the memorial turned into an impromptu mosh pit in the street, which had led to police appearing on the scene in riot gear.
Onfroy was a highly controversial figure in the music industry and was known for having long-standing, public feuds with other musicians. Among these was a social media disagreement with Canadian rapper Drake, who Onfroy accused of plagiarism. In 2017, Onfroy’s social media accounts released a statement: “If anyone tries to kill me, it was @champagnepapi” (referring to Drake’s Instagram handle). Onfroy later said that his account had been hacked and he was not accusing Drake of anything nefarious. Nevertheless, when he was killed the next year, Drake was among the witnesses called to testify.
Drake was not the only high-profile witness who was called. But attorneys pointed out that it was difficult to subpoena major celebrities, whose public contact information is not readily available for their own security.
Because of their highly public feud and Onfroy’s account’s accusation from 2017, some conspiracy theories involve Drake. However, the Canadian rapper has never been credibly tied to Onfroy’s murder, and authorities have not indicated that they take these conspiracy theories as real possibilities.
Onfroy had two memorial services: a public one where fans were invited to come and share their condolences and a private one where only his family and close friends attended.
His public memorial was held on June 27, 2018. It took place at the BB&T Center, a hockey arena in Sunrise, Florida. Fans were encouraged to attend the open-casket ceremony, which lasted about six hours. Several thousand people came to pay their respects, many of them from all over the country.
Some of the visitors waited outside for several hours for their turn to enter the building; while they waited, they played XXXTentacion music and danced. The viewing included videos from the rapper’s social media accounts with his music playing in the background. Fans were invited into the building in groups of 50 to 100 to view his body and say their goodbyes.
They were allowed to process up on the stage past the rapper’s casket. Onfroy wore a dark blue jacket and brown pants. Phones and cameras were not permitted in the arena.
The following day, Onfroy was buried in a private ceremony. His family and closest friends were in attendance, including Erykah Badu, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, and Denzel Curry. He was laid to rest in a mausoleum in Boca Raton Memorial Park in Boca Raton, Florida.
As with many other high-profile figures, Onfroy’s death led to much public speculation and even conspiracy theories.
Ultimately, no one really knows why the rapper was killed. The robbery was successful and complete when Michael Boatwright allegedly turned the gun on Onfroy. More details may come out as investigations continue. In the meantime, conspiracy theories continue to flourish.
Many of Onfroy’s fans believed that his murder was tied to another celebrity with whom he had a dispute. Others suggested that the content of his lyrics may have made him a target, especially because he often rapped about social and political topics.
Other, more wild, conspiracy theories also circulated, claiming that Onfroy had been murdered by someone who was part of his inner circle or even that he wasn’t dead at all. However, none of these conspiracy theories have been substantiated; the official explanation of his death remains a robbery that went tragically wrong.
Three days after Onfroy’s murder, his mother shared that he and his girlfriend, Jenesis Sanchez, were expecting their first child. Sanchez gave birth to a baby boy in January 2019, mere days after what would have been Onfroy’s 21st birthday.
Pop singer Billie Eilish released a song in Onfroy’s honor entitled 6.18.18; Eilish had previously said that Onfroy supported her during a previous phrase of suicidal ideation.
After his death, his song SAD! rose to the top of the streaming charts; he broke records as the first lead singer to have a posthumous No. 1 hit since Notorious B.I.G.
The trial of Onfroy’s murderers remains ongoing as of December 2022, and it remains to be seen how justice will be served. Many musicians have expressed how his death was a loss for the hip hop community, both professionally and personally.
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