weather icon Mostly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

‘There’s a person behind the story,’ twin says of slain sister

Jody Thompson DeVries spent her early years as a wild child with a bright smile, but an alcohol addiction left her siblings worrying about how much longer the 57-year-old could live on the Las Vegas streets.

DeVries was the first of four people who were stabbed in random attacks near UNLV last month. She and another woman died from their injuries.

Christopher Martell was later arrested while attacking a man in a wheelchair and a woman pushing the chair, police said. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Martell is accused of stabbing DeVries while she was sleeping on Sept. 13.

DeVries was 20 minutes older than her sister, Judi Thompson Fergason. The twins grew up as the youngest of four children in the Bay Area of California.

“Our home was like a complete and total gathering place for everyone,” Fergason said in an interview Thursday. “A lot of our friends almost lived there growing up. Maybe their own homes weren’t quite so happy. It was a place of comfort, celebration, friendship.”

When the twins were 16, their oldest sister died in a car crash, leaving behind two young children. Fergason said her twin sister never recovered from the loss, which was shortly followed by their mother’s death.

DeVries started hanging out with Richard DeVries, whom she met in the neighboring city of Pleasanton, California.

Richard DeVries, who has been described as president of the Las Vegas Hells Angels, was indicted on racketeering charges last month after a highway shooting in Henderson involving Hells Angels and Vagos Motorcycle Club members.

Although news accounts have used the name “Devries,” Fergason said the families wrote the name with a capital V.

Richard and Jody DeVries were divorced within a few years, but Fergason said her sister considered the couple’s daughter, Dana Pearce, 27, to be her greatest success.

Jody DeVries moved to Las Vegas in January 2008 and used public transportation to get to odd jobs that left her occasionally homeless, all while struggling with her addiction and alcohol-induced anger issues.

“She worked at T-Mobile Arena,” Fergason said. “I’m still in amazement that she had the ability to keep that job for three to four years while being intermittently homeless.”

When the pandemic hit and Jody DeVries lost her job at the arena, her two remaining siblings worried that her age, her addiction and her living situation might end her life prematurely.

“I still don’t really have the words to describe what it’s like to hear that your twin sister has died from multiple stab wounds,” Fergason said more than three weeks later. “That’s a kind of hell my brain can’t get to.”

Now, Fergason is remembering their joyous childhood and her wild twin who would do anything on a dare.

“I’m going to try really hard to not be bitter and carry the torch for her,” Fergason said through tears. “Now that’s my job really. I just don’t want — she died the way she died — I don’t know that I want to become the poster child for homelessness. All I know is that I need to honor her and share with people that there’s a person behind the story.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.