Family, friends of Phoenix man beaten to death celebrate his life

Phoenix Police said 49-year-old Jake Kelly was found unconscious in the driveway of his home last month in north Phoenix.
Published: Sep. 24, 2023 at 9:16 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Loved ones of 49-year-old Jake Kelly gathered for a vigil at a restaurant in Scottsdale to celebrate his life. “He was a beautiful, kind, and loving person. He never had any ill will towards anyone. And he always looked for the positive and bright side in people,” said Samantha Hamilton.

That is how loved ones remember Kelly: a good person who put good out into the world. All of his friends hung out and are hanging on to the last time they spoke with him.

His friend, Casey Wilkinson, said he was on the phone with Kelly a couple of weeks ago. “What I’m holding on to is that it was a quick two-minute conversation. And I was like, ‘I’ll talk to you in a little bit.’ And you always think there’s tomorrow, and sometimes there isn’t,” said Wilkinson.

Kelly was reportedly beaten to death. Phoenix Police said Kelly was found unconscious in the driveway of his home last month in north Phoenix.

Kelly’s mother, Jan, said his roommates found him, carried him inside the house and put him in the bathtub. She said they didn’t call 911 and took her son to the hospital the next day. “For this to happen to him, but for this to happen to anyone, is horrific. But he’s one of those people that nobody thought this would ever happen to,” said Jan Kelly.

“He went through three major surgeries, and all the time, he was just trying to hang on. Pretty soon, there was no hanging on,” said Jan Kelly.

Hamilton said, “I just don’t understand how someone could’ve done what they did in the way that they did, and how malicious and evil their acts were towards someone that was so kind-hearted and genuinely caring towards others.”

Jan believes her son’s murder was a hate crime because he was gay. She wants the police to investigate it as such. She and Kelly’s friends want the person or people that ended Jake’s life to be found. “I couldn’t even imagine living with myself, knowing that I took a life,” said Malinda Horlick.

Jan said tips are coming in, but more is needed for the case. Silent Witness is offering up to a $2,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. If you know anything, you’re asked to call 480-WITNESS.

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