The Murder of Javier Sosa, Killed at Sea

Javier Rangel Sosa, 54, of Newport News, VA was murdered aboard the 83-foot fishing vessel, Captain Billy Haver, approximately 55 miles off of the Massachusetts coast. Franklin Vasquez, a crew member, had started attacking his peers with a hammer, hurting two others.

The Incident

On September 23, 2018, at approximately 2:00 p.m., a mayday transmission was broadcasted across the international emergency channel from the fishing vessel, Captain Billy Haver. The captain made repeated requests for acknowledgment. United States Coast Guard personnel and private/commercial vessels in the area responded, but the captain continued signaling on as if not hearing their acknowledgment.

According to the radio transmission, the captain stated, “Mayday, mayday, mayday. We have a man gone crazy here on the boat, man. One man, I don’t know if he’s dead or what. But one of the crew members went crazy, and he started hitting people in the head with a hammer. I got three men that’s injured now. One I can’t wake him up. He’s already cut the antenna or something off.”

Crew members cornered Vazquez after he climbed up the mast of the 83-foot scallop boat. Vazquez had climbed the mast with both the hammer and knife, although he discarded the knife which fell to the boat’s deck.

The first vessel to arrive on the scene was the German cruise ship, Mein Schiff 6. Despite the best efforts of crew members, Javier Sosa succumbed to his multiple stab wounds and head injuries. Initial treatment began for two other crew members for blunt force trauma to the head by a hammer.

The United States Coast Guard arrived on the scene, southeast of Nantucket Island, MA, and arrested Vazquez. According to an affidavit by a Coast Guard special agent filed in the U.S. District Court in Boston, MA, Vazquez was charged with murder and attempted murder of another man “on the high seas… within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

Javier Sosa

Javier Sosa and his wife of many years, Graciela, had raised their two sons in the greater Newport News area of Virginia. He had obtained his U.S. citizenship many years prior to his death. He was well respected within his family and the fishing industry. Sosa had become a captain at the age of 16, a fact that he and his family were very proud of. He spent the better part of 25 years fishing up and down the eastern seaboard, a common practice within the industry. Sosa had been part of the crew of The Captain Billy Havier for many years. He had plans to retire and return to Mexico, where his family had originated.

Franklin “Freddy” Meave Vasquez

Meave Vazques, 27, was no stranger to being arrested. Prior to the murder of Sosa in September, he had been charged in March with two felonies that came from a domestic violence case involving his wife and related drug charges.

On March 8, 2018, Meave and his then-girlfriend were laying in bed when he suddenly snapped and began to strangle her. The woman fought back, scratching Meave. He let got of her, and the women tried to get to the phone, but Meave grabbed both of them and would keep pushing the woman onto the bed. He then grabbed a scarf and wrapped in aound her neck in an effort to get her to stop screaming. While Meave had her pinned down, she bit his chest, and he released her. She tried to get down the stairs and use the voice activation to call the police. but he pulled her by her hair. According to news outlets, he stated “Do you hear a voice? Do you see the devil?

The woman managed to get a phone and texted her friend. Meave eventually let her go. The woman met her friend down the street and contacted police. Meave was arrested with strangulation and abduction. He was denied bond upon arraignment but was released when a circuit judge overturned the decision.


Meave also had felony drug charges pending at the time.

Since Meave was in the country illegally, he was turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on April 2, 2018. Even though Meave had pending felony charges against him and ICE personnel’s strong objections, an immigration judge set Vazquez’s bond at $20,000. He was released from jail two days later. Officials did not release the judge’s name or bond amount, but both facts were stated by the parents of Vazquez’s then ex-wife. They identified the judge as Roxanne C. Hladylowycz.

The Aftermath

On November 16, 2018, Meave Vazquez was indicted by a grand jury on one count of murder in the second degree for the death of Javier Sosa, one count of attempted murder, and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon for the other unnamed crew members.

On March 11, 2020, the United States District Court of Massachusetts recognized a Forensic Mental Health Evaluation performed by Dr. Miriam Kissinm Psy.D. of the Fort Devens Medical Center. The evaluation found Vazquez incompetent to stand trial due to a mental disease or defect. He was committed to the custody of the Attorney General with a suggestion of commitment for treatment at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.

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