ROSEVILLE, Calif. — It has been one year since a 51-year-old waitress was killed inside a Roseville restaurant in domestic violence related incident.
It was a somber day of remembrance at the House of Oliver in Roseville where the deadly attack took place. Customers, friends and colleagues current and former paid homage there Tuesday.
Vita Joga is remembered by colleagues as a vibrant woman who could light up a room. However, those close to her say, in the time leading up to her death, she faced serious domestic abuse and was trying to find safety.
Her long-time boss Matthew Oliver, owner of House of Oliver, helped Joga obtain a restraining order against her ex-fiancé Johnnie Jordan. The 48-year-old man is accused of entering the restaurant on June 21, 2021 and killing Joga, according to court documents.
“She was a bright personality that could change the atmosphere in a room instantly,” Oliver said.
Jordan, a convicted felon not allowed to posses a firearm, was expected in Placer County Court that day to be arraigned on charges related to battery and death threats he allegedly aimed toward Joga. He had bailed out earlier and skipped that court appearance. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, but it did not get to authorities in time to save Joga’s life.
“Every day when I read a headline of another life taken that could have been prevented, it brings me back to this moment,” Oliver said.
Oliver has publicly and privately fundraised to help others who are battling similar situations as his former friend and employee. The restaurant has raised more than $10,000 for Stand Up Placer, an area organization that helps those experiencing domestic violence.
Meanwhile, the business owner is also advocating for changes to legal policy to prevent these incidents from happening again.
“She had gone through all the processes and did everything right and this violent criminal was released and able to commit this horrific crime, and it never should have happened,” Oliver said.
Lawmakers in the California Assembly are pursuing changes that could offer early warning to victims of domestic violence.
“It angers me to know that so many victims continue to die at the hands of their abusers,” said state Senator Susan Rubio.
Rubio’s legislation, known as the right to pause, was written following this year’s deadly killing of four at a Sacramento County church. The bill would require officials to notify victim’s if their alleged abuser was arrested, bailed out of jail or skipped a court appearance.
“We need to keep victim’s informed, every step of the way,” Rubio said.
The bill has stalled over criticism that there are other processes already in place to provide warning, however, Rubio argues they do not work quickly enough.