Tag Archives: johnny horn trail

St. John Trails: Hike With the Super

Hike With the Super
The Friends of the Virgin islands National Park sponsored a “Hike with the Super” yesterday. Park superintendent, Brion FitzGerald led the hike beginning at Annaberg, following the Leinster Bay Trail to the beach at Waterlemon Bay. Here the group was led through the ruins of the old Leinster Bay Plantation and the Leinster Bay Valley and then on to the Johnny Horn Trail with stops at the guardhouse and the James Murphy Estate House.

Virgin Islands National Park Superintendent Brion FitzGerald
Superintendent Brion FitzGerald

St. John Beaches: Waterlemon Beach
Beach at Waterlemon Bay

Leinster Bay ruins cattle dip
Cattle Dip at Leinster Bay Ruins

leinster bay valley
Leinster Bay Valley dry salt pond

Birds at Leinster Salt Pond

Johnny Horn Trail guard house
Guardhouse on Johnny Horn Trail

murphy entrance
Entrance to James Murphy Estate House

leinster bay
View of Leinster Bay from the estate house

sir francis drake channel
Sir Francis Drake Channel

St. John Virgin Islands News

U.S. senator asks FBI to look into lack of progress in St. John murder investigation
By JENNY KANE (Daily News Staff)

ST. THOMAS – The family of a New Jersey man stabbed on St. John last month said they are upset by the V.I. Police Department’s lack of communication about the unsolved murder, and they have turned to a U.S. senator for assistance.

In response to the family’s complaints, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., sent a letter critical of the V.I. Police Department to the director of the FBI requesting the agency’s assistance in the case.

James Malfetti III, 41, was found dead in his Chocolate Hole apartment Jan. 19, according to police reports.

Police initially classified the incident as a suspicious death, then two days later reclassified it as a murder after further inspecting the body and saying Malfetti suffered several puncture wounds to the neck….

…The victim’s parents, who live in New Jersey, call the police on St. Thomas – specifically Detective Diana Martinez, leader of the investigation into their son’s death – every day, Rosemary Malfetti said. Martinez has only responded to their calls once or twice, they said.

“If you decide to take what the family says, then that’s up to you. I beg to differ with what they are saying,” Martinez said Tuesday evening when reached by phone.

Martinez declined to answer how often she has been speaking with the Malfetti family, deferring all further questions to V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr.

Querrard could not be reached Tuesday….

…”The rudeness, and the dryness. It’s really hurtful to the parents of a son that’s just been murdered, their only son,” Jim Malfetti said.

In their frustration, the Malfettis turned to Menendez, who wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey, pleading that the FBI take over what Menendez called a botched local investigation….

…In the letter to the FBI, Menendez wrote:

“In investigating the murder, Jim’s parents state that the police discarded forensic evidence, failed to collect potentially crucial evidence, incorrectly stated the date of death on the death certificate, misstated facts to the parents, and failed to check for fingerprints.

“My constituents also repeatedly called the local police for updates into the investigation, but were rebuffed and told that if they continue to call their case will be moved to the ‘bottom of the pile,'” the letter said. “Even after over two weeks, the police have told the parents that they have not begun to trace the stolen cell phone.”… read entire article

US Virgin Islands defends handling of New Jersey man’s killing
Wednesday February 12, 2014, 6:57 PM
Associated Press

KINGSTON, Jamaica  — Police in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday defended their handling of an unsolved slaying of a New Jersey native who was fatally stabbed more than three weeks ago during an apparent burglary….

…Malfetti’s parents have enlisted the help of New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, telling him that the U.S. Virgin Islands police force have handled the murder investigation amateurishly from the start, failing to collect evidence and even discarding valuable forensic clues. Police initially labelled the case as a suspicious death, but a couple of days later reclassified it as a homicide. There have been no arrests.

Virgin Islands Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard insisted in a Wednesday statement that police have “taken all necessary steps since the day the victim was found” to process evidence and follow leads.

“This case is an active investigation and we will continue the process of investigating the unfortunate death of James Malfetti until we can file a criminal complaint,” Querrard said.

His statement comes two days after Menendez, a Democrat, wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey requesting assistance from the agency, saying that “the family deserves a competent investigation.” Menendez said the grieving parents had experienced a “hostile and uninterested law enforcement response.””’

Querrard’s statement said he expressed his condolences to the family, but Malfetti’s parents said they hadn’t heard a word from him. They said police even failed to notify them when their son’s body was found….

…Querrard said local FBI agents are assisting with the probe but did not disclose more details. He said police would update Malfetti’s parents and “address their issues to the best of our ability without compromising the case.”

Virgin Puree Launches Fruit Export Program
By Susan Ellis — February 12, 2014

Dale Browne, of Sejah Farm, Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen and Anthony Weeks of St. Croix Economic Development Initiative introduce Virgin Puree at a press conference Wednesday.

Virgin Puree, a program to harvest, preserve and sell locally grown fruit – including produce collected from residents’ backyards – was introduced by the stakeholders at a press conference Wednesday at Sejah Farm.

Sponsors envision Virgin Puree will add millions of dollars to the local economy and provide a local food source at the same time. Fruit grown and sold by farmers and residents to Virgin Puree will be preserved as juice, dried or frozen. The goal of the program is to sell fruit products locally and to supermarkets and restaurants on the mainland.

“Everybody has a fruit tree in the yard,” said Dale Browne, owner of Sejah Farm. “Most of it goes to waste,” he said, adding that Virgin Puree will try to find the “hidden orchards.”

The Virgin Puree program will begin this weekend at Agrifest 2014.

Volunteers located near the Sejah Farm booth and produce stand will collect surveys from residents to determine the number of backyard fruit trees and the community’s interest in the agriculture industry.

The next step, according to Anthony Weeks, director of the St. Croix Economic Development Initiative, is research and development to determine the best products. The next step will be having focus groups test the products. Participants suggested mangos should be tested first, he said.

The end result will be pureed, frozen or dried products in local stores.

St. John USVI Live Music Schedule

Banana Deck
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
6:00 – 9:00

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge

7:00 – 9:00

Wayne Clendenin and Pamela Love
4 :30 – 6:30

High Tide
Island Girl
Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00

Inn at Tamarind Court
Brother Nature

Island Blues
Gann – Solo guitar
7:00 – 10:00

Morgan’s Mango
James Anderson
6:30 – 9:30

Ocean Grill
Chris Carsel
6:30 – 9:30

Skinny Legs
Lauren Jones
6:00 – 9:00

James Milne
5:00 – 8:00

St. John Virgin Islands Weather

Isolated showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. East wind 17 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

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Virgin Islands National Park Effected by Federal Government Shutdown

Hawksnest Bay closed for Govt. Shutdown
Barricade at Parking Lot at Hawksnest Bay

Trunk Bay Barricade
Barricade at Trunk Bay, but Some Cars in the Lot Anyway

Swimmers at Trunk Bay
And Some People are Swimming Anyway

Cinnamon Bay closed by VI National Park
Taxi Drivers Among Those Effected by Federal Government Shutdown – Cinnamon Bay Barricaded and Closed

Maho Bay Pavillion
You Can Park at Maho, but You Can’t Sit on the Benches or Use the Toilets

Annaberg Road Closed
The Road to Annaberg, Leinster Bay, Waterlemon Cay and the Johnny Horn Trail is Closed
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Base Hill: Another Cool St. John Overlook

St. John USVI Trails: Base Hill
Base Hill Overlook

You can reach Base Hill (pronounced “boss hill”) via a spur on the Johnny Horn Trail. See Trail Bandit Map. Download the 8.2 MB file “2010 St. John Hiking Map.

St John Live Music Schedule Thursday 11/15

Banana Deck
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
6:00 – 9:00

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Erin Hart
7:00 – 9:00

Beach Bar
7:00 – 10:00


High Tide
Inner Visions

Miss Lucy’s
Jazz with Rich and Greg
6:00 – 9:00

Morgan’s Mango
Mark Wallace
6:00 – 9:30

See Weekly Schedule

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St. John Trails: The Grave of James Murphy on the Johnny Horn Trail

Buried on a hilltop overlooking Leinster Bay and an overview of his vast property holdings on St. John, is the grave of Irishman, James Murphy, a wealthy merchant and slave trader who died on St. John in 1809. The trail to Mr. Murphy’s grace heads off to the south just about 50 feet east of the trail to the Great House of his estate.

Jame's Murphy's grave
Grave of James Murphy

View from James Murphy's grave
View from James Murphy’s grave
One of two graves located just before Murphy’s grave

Just before you reach  Murphy’s grave there are two more graves, one intact and another which appears to have been broken into.

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St. John Trails: An Unofficial Brown Bay Ridgeline Spur

Another hike with the Trail Bandit and Mary

View of the Sir Francis drake Channel
View of the sir Francis drake Channel from the Brown Bay Spur
brown bay ridgeline spur
map of brown bay ridgeline spur

We met at the East End entrance to the Brown Bay Trail. The trail is now in beautiful condition. There’s parking off the road for hikers and the trail is wide and clear. A dirt road near the trail head leads to the police gun range.

Our stated goals for the day are to photograph the ruins on the beach, try to locate the road that must have once connected these ruins to the main Brown Bay Trail (now the only open access is along the shore from the beach), photograph the two overlooks on the Johnny Horn Trail cleared by Jeff Chabot and the volunteer trail crew and find the trail to Murphy’s grave, none of which we accomplished.

Hermitage Ruins on the Brown Bay Trail
The Hrmitage Ruins just off the brown bay Trail

We began in good faith walking up the hillside on the south passing the Hermitage ruins on our right. Interestingly, although I have walked this trail many times over the years I never noticed these ruins that so prominently stand  just a few yards off the main trail until they were cleared just recently. Shows you how easily you can miss stuff in just a little bit of growth.

At the top of the hill where the Brown Bay Trail makes a small turn and begins to descend toward the north, we notice a narrow spur trail heading over a ridge to the south.

As we are standing there we meet another hiker, a local it turns out, who walks the trail just about everyday.

The hiker tells us the story behind this spur trail.

There’s this guy who for several years has been clearing this trail, and this is no easy trail to clear. This area was heavily grazed for many years and the worst kind of scrub has taken over in many areas and I’m talking catch and keep. But he pushes on, following the ridge over three hilltops, we’re told. He does a good job too; takes away his trash; doesn’t leave old, dead catch and keep anywhere near the trail.

Now, cutting trails in the park is against the rules. In this case, it’s obvious to me, at least, that he’s doing no harm. the environment being so messed up by overgrazing anyway, but nonetheless, he’s not supposed to be doing this.

For whatever reason, he’s left alone; no one complains, and he continues his work. He flags the trail with ribbons to mark the route and at the end of the day, he leaves his tools at the end of his trail and goes home.

One day, I think it may have been about a year ago, he heads out to work on the trail and the ribbons are gone. He walks to the end of the trail and his tools are also gone. The hiker telling us the story speculates that this setback as well as talk around town of increased enforcement of park rules leads to the discontinuation of the trail project.

But the trail is there, and although it is no longer being improved or maintained, it is passable and obvious, and it’s obvious that other hikers have been on it since the original trail blazer stopped working.

Intrigued, we decide to leave the Brown Bay Trail for the time being and see where this trail leads.

catch and keep
Catch 'n' Keep

At first its kind of tough going, some of the cut back catch and keep has grown over the trail and needs to be strategically avoided. If anyone else ever decides to hike here, I would suggest long pants, gloves and perhaps a small clippers to cut away some of the catch and keep.

The trail soon takes us to a small ruin, probably the domain of some poor subsistence farmer.

Standing within the ruins it came to mind that this trail, although probably never an established roadway, was possibly a walking or donkey trail used by the residents of what are now the two ruins located on the mountain ridge that the path follows, this one, and a second one located further along the ridge near Princess Bay.

We push on and the thick scrub gives way to dry forest,which is easier to pass through. There are tall turpentine trees and thick mampoos and we even several lignum vitaes.

Dry Forest
Dry Forest

lignum vitae
Lignum Vitae


Overhead we hear the screams of a large Jamaican Hawk circling above. Thinking about the vista he must be experiencing, I notice the potential for incredible views from the hilltops that we pass while continuing on the ridgeline path.

View from north side of trail
view from north side of trail
Princess Bay st. John USVI
Princess Bay Ruins

If any of these hilltop overlooks were ever cleared they would offer almost 360  degree views of some of the most spectacular views in the Virgin islands, Tortola and the islands of the Sir Francis Drake Channel on the north and around to East End and Coral Bay on the south. As it is peering through the bush in those areas where the catch n keep keep you away the views there are some fantastic views to be had.

The ridge takes us to the Princess Bay ruins and from there we bushwhack down the steep hill to meet the east End Road.

It was a really nice hike after all even if we didn’t accomplish what we started out to do. This trail will most likely grow over if it’s not used, so now is the chance to do it if you’re so inclined…

For more about Brown Bay click:




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