UPDATE 11/21/09: A second autopsy will performed on A.J. Jewell, TMZ reports. His family is demanding that the ex-fiance of ‘Housewives’ star Kandi Burruss be exhumed because they are not content with the medical explanation for his death.
The first autopsy found that the fistfight Jewell was in stirred up complications with his sickle cell disease.
Kandi Burruss’s Ex-Fiance’s Death Was A Homocide
UPDATE 11/18/09: The Fulton County Medical Examiner has ruled the death of Kandi Burruss’s ex-fiance, AJ Jewell, a homicide, TMZ reports.
The fight with Frederick Richardson out side an Atlanta stripclub caused complications in Jewell’s sickle cell disease, which ultimately killed him. It is officially listed as: “Physical altercation resulting in sickle cell trait related exertional collapse.” Contributing factors are “intestinal myocardial fidrosis,” and an enlarged heart.
Richardson is charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Funeral For A.J. Jewell Set for Friday; Reunion Show Postponed
UPDATE: 10/7/09: The funeral for Ashley “A.J.” Jewell will be held on Friday at the Ray of Hope Christian Church in DeKalb Country, Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The man charged in Jewell’s death, Frederick Richardson, was denied bail during a court appearance on Tuesday. The defense attorney alleges Jewell pulled a gun on Richardson and drew the first punch during the fatal fight.
Also, TMZ.com is reporting Jewell was walking and talking after the fight. Sources tell the Web site that Jewell didn’t take an ambulance to the hospital but got a ride with a friend. The medical examiner’s office says there were no stab wounds on Jewell’s body.
Meanwhile, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion show has been postponed, and an in memoriam note will be added to this week’s episode in honor of Jewell.–ZH
Atlanta Police: ‘Apparently They Just Didn’t Like Each Other’
UPDATE: 10/6/09: It’s possible the fight that led to Ashley “A.J.” Jewell’s death may have started because the former fiance of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kandi Burruss felt he wasn’t getting enough deference from business associate Frederick Richardson, 45, at a strip club he co-owned, police say. “They had some words about a business decision,” said Lt. Keith Meadows, head of Atlanta Police’s homicide unit. “It seems like it was a struggle for power over the club.”
The police findings, reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, help shed light on Jewell’s senseless death. As we reported earlier, Burruss’s rep confirmed that Jewell, 34, had recently invested money in the Body Tap. Joyce Farley-Sands, a spokeswoman for the Jewell’s family, said the victim had also been a talent promoter and had a recording studio. According to Meadows, Richardson, a manager at the Body Tap, had an ongoing beef with Jewell. “Apparently they just didn’t like each other,” Meadows said. “A.J. felt like he deserved more respect from Richardson and it wasn’t given to him.”–ZH
Kim Zolciak: ‘A.J. Was the Sweetest and Most Incredible Guy’
UPDATE: 10/5/09: After learning of the sudden death of Ashely “A.J.” Jewell, “RHOA” castmate Kandi Burruss’s ex-fiance, Kim Zolciak shares her condolences and heartfelt memories exclusively with ESSENCE.COM.
“I’m deeply saddened by the senseless killing that goes on in this world. I’m deeply affected and at a loss for words. When something tragic like this happens it makes you realize how short life really is and has taught all of us that it can change in an instant. In the period that I’ve known Kandi and had come to know A.J., I considered them friends.
“I came home to Atlanta early, I just couldn’t focus in L.A. after hearing about A.J. I watched the next two episodes, one of which is Kandi’s engagement party. Sheree and I threw her one because it was right after A.J.’s nephew had that car accident, and they were so happy. I literally sat in my bed and just cried. I now look back and can’t believe I didn’t return his calls from a few days prior. A.J. was the sweetest and most incredible guy. He was with Big Poppa the night he proposed to me and was helping orchestrate the whole deal. He even saw the engagement ring before I did. He was there in the studio with me and Kandi, and when I was discouraged and feeling all this pressure, he said, ‘Kim, you need to stand strong!’
“I really hate that people who never knew him judged him and talked so much sh– about him. Kandi loved him; they loved each other. You can’t help who you love, and despite all they went through the love was still there. I can honestly say that I am proud to know each of my castmates because we’ve all stepped up to the plate to be there for her. Even Sheree pulling my hair seems trivial now, and we’ve all spoken and agree that we are going to put our differences aside to be there for Kandi however she might need us to be. She’s been through a lot this year with the car accident, losing her uncle and now A.J. Kandi has the most amazing smile and I just want to see her smile again. I’m going to do what I can to help make that happen and keep her focused.”–KNB
Kandi Speaks to ESSENCE.com Exclusively on Her Loss
UPDATE: 10/4/09: On Saturday, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kandi Burruss buried her uncle and mother’s brother, Ralph Leslie, who lost his battle with cancer a week ago. Now the Grammy Award-winning songwriter and singer must prepare to attend another funeral in the coming days as she mourns the senseless death of her former fiance, Ashley “A.J.” Jewel.
“I am devastated by the loss of AJ. His death comes on the heels of the death of my beloved Uncle Ralph and with both of them gone, my heart is heavy with grief. I had spoken to AJ two hours before I got the call that he was in the hospital and never in a thousand years thought it was going to be the last time we spoke. He was taken way
too soon. There are so many things that I should have said to him, wanted to say to him. But now it’s too late.
I want to deeply extend my heartfelt thanks to all of my family and friends – and that means my twitter and facebook friends as well — for the beautiful words of encouragement, prayers, and the sweet condolences. I make it through these difficult days because of you. I know this is cliche’ but I urge everyone to treat each day as if it’s your last and tell that special someone you love them today. Don’t wait. It may be too late.
Please pray for AJ’s children, his family and Riley–they too are grieving the loss of an incredible man, son, brother and father. I wish you all had gotten to know the AJ we all knew and loved,” Burruss told ESSENCE.com exclusively in a statement issued by her publicist, Tresa Sanders.
Jewell, 34, on Friday evening was outside the Body Tap–an Atlanta strip club, which Burruss’s rep confirms Jewell co-owned–when a brawl ensued between he and Frederick Richardson. Richardson, who suffered injuries was arrested on Saturday in connection with his death after Jewell allegedly sustained fatal head injuries and was pronounced dead upon arrival at Piedmont Hospital.
A Bravo representative expressed the staff’s remorse. “Our thoughts are with Kandi and A.J.’s families during this tragic time,” the show’s publicist told ESSENCE.com.
In the wee hours on Saturday, Burruss, 33, shared her sorrow in a Twitter message: “im just in one of those moods where i dont wanna talk, i dont wanna b held & told its gonna b ok. i just wanna cry myself 2 sleep, alone. I could never n a million years imagine this happening. please pray for AJ’s children. that’s who im the most concerned 4. im bout 2 giv my swollen eyes sum rest now. i just wanted to say thanks 2 every1 for their prayers.”
Despite the outpouring of condolences from the “No Scrubs” writer’s fans, the couple endured much criticism from the blogosphere, namely because Jewell fathered six children from four different women and was ambiguously employed, causing some to believe that he was trying to cash in on Burruss’s success. Among their biggest critics was Burruss’s mom, who appears on the Bravo reality show and questions her daughter’s decision to be with someone with such excessive baggage.
“Her mom actually liked A.J. as a person, but she just had issues that he had so many children and feared that they would become Kandi’s responsibility,” a “Housewives” insider revealed to ESSENCE.com. “Still, A.J. was a good man and should not have been judged on his past. Now he’s gone, and although her mom meant well in protecting her daughter, she has to live with the fact that she could have treated him better.”
According to the source, upcoming episodes will show Burruss’s mom heavily criticizing A.J. as well as the couple’s engagement party. Footage that, if aired, will be difficult for all to watch.
Despite their relationship hiatus, which began in August, Burruss remained optimistic about their future together and even assumed legal guardianship of Jewell’s 12-year-old twin daughters. “We haven’t set a wedding date yet,” Burruss told ESSENCE.com. “But it’s going to happen.”
Burruss has Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, her former Xscape bandmate and star of BET’s “Tiny and Toya,” to thank for her union because Jewell was a former beau of hers.
Xscape Member Tameka “Tiny” Cottle Speaks Out
UPDATE: “I would like to send my deepest condolences to the family of Ashley ‘AJ’ Jewell and my dear friend and former bandmate Kandi. AJ was a very sweet person who has been a friend for quite some time and had a lot of positive things taking place in his life for it all to be taken away from him so quickly.He will be missed,my family and I will continue to keep his family and most of all his children in our prayers. I am praying for my friend Kandi that God gives her the strength to endure. She is a very strong person and I know god will see her through.” –KNB
Suspect in Death Arrested
UPDATE: Atlanta homicide detectives have arrested a suspect in the beating death of Ashley “A.J.” Jewell, Kandi’s former fiance, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fredrick Richardson was charged with voluntary manslaughter and was also in the hospital from injuries sustained in the one-on-one fight with Jewell. He will head to jail once released from the hospital. Earlier this morning officers confirmed they were in contact with a person of interest .–CJ
Ed Hartwell Speaks Out on A.J.
UPDATE: Upon learning the news of the sudden death of Kandi Burruss’s former fiance A.J., Ed Hartwell, “RHOA” costar Lisa Wu’s Hartwell’s husband, expressed his condolences.
“I haven’t known A.J. for a long time, but in the short time we were around each other during taping we’ve gotten to know each other better,” Hartwell told ESSENCE.com exclusively. “We had many conversations while playing cards, working out and taping. A.J. said that he admired my relationship with Lisa and asked several questions pertaining to marriage because he wanted to be a good husband for Kandi. We also talked about raising kids. I realized that A.J. was a good man trying to do what was right. He was a cool person. He was a father, he was a son, he was a brother, he was a friend. He will be missed. I will keep his family and Kandi in my prayers.”–KNB
Statement in Tragic Death of Kandi’s Former Fiance
UPDATE 10/4/09: As has been reported, Ashley Jewell, 34, was killed in Atlanta last night. A.J., as he is known to many, and Kandi Burruss of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and formerly of platinum recording group Xscape were once engaged to be married. Burruss is devastated as she is also mourning the death of her uncle, Ralph Leslie, and is attending his funeral today. She has no statements to make at this time and there are no final details on the death of A.J.–KNB
Lisa Wu Hartwell Says Housewives ‘Vow to Be There for Kandi’
“Real Housewives of Atlanta” star and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and singer Kandi Burruss has suffered a second major loss within a week. Her ex-fiance Ashley Jewell was beaten to death outside an Atlanta strip club called The Body Tap, which he co-owned, Burruss’s rep confirmed.
Allegedly Jewell, known as A.J., was involved in a brawl, sustained fatal head injuries and was pronounced dead upon arriving at a local hospital. No arrests have been made. This tragedy comes a week after Burruss’s uncle, Ralph Leslie, her mother’s brother, lost his battle with cancer. Her uncle appeared on an episode earlier this season. Burruss was set to attend her uncle’s funeral today.
“My heart goes out to A.J.’s family and Kandi,” Lisa Wu Hartwell told ESSENCE.com. “We had the chance to get to know A.J. and he was sweet and down to earth. He will be missed. All of us spoke last night and agreed that, although we have our differences, we have all vowed to put everything aside to be there for Kandi.”
Unfortunately, Burruss is no stranger to tragedy. She told ESSENCE.com that her big brother was killed in a car accident at the age of 16 when he secretly accompanied an older cousin to Mexico for his spring break and told their mom that he was vacationing domestically. “My mother has been extremely protective of me ever since,” Kandi told ESSENCE.com. “It’s not just with men but anyone who tries to befriend me.”
On the show, Burruss’s mom constantly expressed her disapproval of their relationship.
In September, Burruss revealed to ESSENCE.com exclusively that she and Jewell were taking a break. “We’re on hiatus,” Kandi said. “He’s a great guy and he’s not the type to sit on his behind like a scrub, so it has nothing to do with that. Yes, he has a lot of children, and yes, I didn’t know about them all at first but I got over it, because as long as you handle your responsibilities and spend time with your children it’s not an issue for me. Another thing I want to set the record straight on is that A.J. was married before. A lot of people make comments like, if he didn’t marry his other children’s mothers then why do you think he’s going to marry you?”
Despite taking a break to work through their issues, Burruss revealed that she was happily caring for his twin daughters.
“I am the legal guardian of A.J.’s 12-year-old twin daughters because his mother felt the responsibility was too much for her right now and she couldn’t handle it anymore,” Burruss explained. “He would have taken them with him, but they needed a strong female role model and they wanted to stay with me. Just because A.J. and I are not together, I have accepted them as my children the same way that my stepfather did me when I was their age and he and my mom separated. He continued do things with me as my father throughout my life.”
On September 24, Burruss stopped by the ESSENCE office and revealed in a video interview that her mom, who disapproves of her relationship, might have been “right” about some things concerning her ex-fiance, who has six kids, but remained optimistic that they’d work through their issues.
Burruss’s new album, “B.L.O.G.,” is slated for release on November 10 and many of the songs address the criticism she and her fiance received in the blogosphere as well as some of the drama that unfolded on the show.–KNB
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