‘A hearty smile, a servant’s heart’: Community remembers woman shot, killed in her home Tuesday


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Josh Robinson, the pastor at Hope Presbyterian Church in Austin, said Vanessa Neves “radiated joy.”

Friends and family gathered Wednesday night at the church to remember and pray for Neves, the 41-year-old woman who was shot and killed inside her home Tuesday on Spicewood Parkway in northwest Austin. Robinson said he’s known Neves for the past 4-5 years through the church and in the community, and that his son had her as a substitute teacher at Spicewood Elementary School.

“She had a hearty smile and a servant’s heart,” Robinson said. “She was someone that made the world feel a little more OK, and a little bit more warm, and a little bit more right when you saw her walking through the halls of the elementary and out in the community.”

The vigil held at the church gave its close-knit congregation time to pray and try to understand how such a tragic thing could happen to a woman who was so loved. Robinson said about 250 people packed the church’s sanctuary for the service.

“This was a time for the community to gather, to cry, to lament, to grief, to embrace each other in a spirit of struggling to understand and striving to make sense of a horrific tragedy,” he said.

Neves’ husband, James Neves, 54, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death. According to the Austin Police Department, Vanessa was shot during a domestic disturbance, and James called 911 and said he shot her. The couple’s two children were in the home when it happened, but weren’t hurt.

According to jail records, James Neves is in Travis County Jail on $750,000 bond.

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