LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As law enforcement continues its investigation into the murder of 30-year-old Jacob Duffee, his family is making plans to say goodbye and a Lubbock business is offering its support.
Duffee recently started a landscaping business in Levelland and worked closely with Hardy Trees & Nursery. Owner Chad Hardy tells KCBD he and his staff was stunned by the news of their customer's death.
"We were absolutely heartbroken last night," Hardy said. "We prayed for his family. It was so surreal. You just wouldn't think that would happen in Lubbock and to a guy that you knew and had things going his way, was trying to do things right."
Hardy said Duffee had been buying plants from his business and seeking advice about starting a business.
"He was just passionate," Hardy said. "I've been doing this for over 20 years and just the passion, it reminded me a lot of myself when I was starting my business. He gave me passion. That's how enthusiastic he was about the landscape business. He had just finished college. He seemed like he had everything going his way."
Duffee's mother, Jody, tells KCBD the news of her son's death brought a sense of relief after he was missing since late September.
"We now knew where he was but there was also the realization that he wasn't coming home," Duffee said. "That was very hard. That was very hard to deal with. But, we've got each other and we are kind of leaning on one another right now. It's a horrendous ordeal."
Oscar Diaz Cerna, an employee of Jacob, is accused of shooting and killing him. Jody Duffee said she knew Cerna worked for her son but the only information she had about the relationship came from people she met while putting up posters. She said they told her the two men were always together.
"I know that's true because he did a lot for Oscar," Duffee said. "He even bailed him out of jail. We found a receipt where he bailed him out of jail last year. You have to really be close to someone to have them do that for you. He was just a kind-hearted person."
Hardy and his staff felt the need to help the family of the kind person they were able to meet.
"We want to reach out to other landscape companies, other landscapers that buy from us," Hardy said. "We're going to start a GoFundMe account and then we've already donated $2,000 to Commercial State Bank. They've set up an account for the Duffee family. We just wanted to help. That's the only way we knew how to help. Our hearts go out to them and there's nothing we can do that's going to make it any easier. But we just felt like this is the only way we can do something for them."
Hardy encourages others to make a donation to the bank as the Dallas-based family is set to receive the money for funeral and travel expenses.
"It's just so humbling to know that people cared so much about Jacob that they want to do this for his family," Duffee said. "It's not from anything I've done or anyone else has done. It's because they knew Jacob. Of course, it's a great help for the family because we have many more trips to Lubbock to make before this is all over. I was just very grateful and touched by the outpouring of financial support and prayers, well wishes and all the people touching our lives and people calling us and telling us they knew Jacob and what they thought of him. It's been overwhelmingly comforting."