Deangelo Shelby

Deangelo Shelby, 28, died last week after jumping in the Kankakee River. This photo was taken two years ago when Deangelo and his wife, LaToya, were in Nebraska.

KANKAKEE — LaToya Shelby describes her husband as a math whiz who loved electronics. She also says he struggled with depression, among other things.

On Friday, Sept. 6, Deangelo Shelby, 28, of Kankakee, jumped from the South Schuyler Avenue bridge into the Kankakee River and was pronounced dead after emergency personnel found his body.

He had talked about ending it all before, LaToya said, but she always put a stop to such plans.

“All he needed was someone to talk sense into him, see what was going on,” she said with tears in her eyes.

The Shelbys, who have four children, lived in Branson, Mo., for a few years before returning to the area last winter.

The night before he died, Deangelo stayed in the Gift of God Street Church homeless shelter. LaToya was not sure why.

Pastor Ed Kannapel, who runs the shelter, said Deangelo spent eight hours in the shelter. In the morning, Deangelo went with the pastor to take clothes to The Salvation Army.

“He was really nice. He was gentle. He was sweet,” Kannapel said.

He said he had “no clue” Deangelo was suicidal.

“It affected me bad,” the pastor said.

After leaving the shelter that morning, Deangelo returned to his house and told his wife he was going to the river, but didn’t say what he would do, she said.

Some point afterward, Deangelo sent a text message to his wife saying he would kill himself. But her phone wasn’t charged, so she didn’t see it.

About 10 a.m., after she took her son to school, two of her other children were in the car when she was alerted he was at the river preparing to kill himself.

When they got there, “he was standing on the rail saying, ‘I love you.’ I told him if you jump in, I’m going to jump in, too,” LaToya said.

He threw his gray jacket in the river and then jumped, she said. Searchers found his body a little more than an hour later in the river.

In discussing her husband, LaToya referred to him as a “computer geek.”

“He loved anything that had to do with electronics. Math was his favorite. He could solve any math problem,” LaToya said.

She also said he was good at sports.

“He used to be a tumbler. We used to go for walks in the park. He would let go of my hand and would run and jump off of something,” LaToya said.

His mother died when he was about 7, LaToya said.

“He thought about her every day,” his wife said. “He was really good at masking his feelings. He never had closure when his mother passed away. He was in foster care. It gave him some mental issues to deal with.”

He had been a long-haul truck driver, but since moving back to Kankakee, he was hoping to get a trucking job with shorter routes, so he could spend more time with his family, LaToya said.

Since his death, she said, “I have been thinking of him a lot. I have been looking at videos and photos of him. He was the best. He had a good heart.”

LaToya, a Daily Journal carrier, said she cannot afford the funeral bill. For those who want to help, call her at 708-465-8469. You also can visit her Facebook page; search for Toya Anay.

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