Scholarship memorializes missing man

Published 10:38 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

Almost three years after the disappearance of her son, Joan Turner has started a scholarship fund in his name with the help of family.

“Because of us not knowing what happened, as a family we decided we wanted to do something in a positive way,” Turner said.

Russell, a Suffolk native, has not been heard from since Nov. 11, 2015. The rumor was that the 30-year-old had been shot in Newport News, but he has never been found.


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The 2018 Quantez Russell Scholarship Fund is available only to students at Suffolk public high schools, and a $500 scholarship will be awarded to one student from each school — Nansemond River, King’s Fork and Lakeland high schools.

Russell attended Lakeland High School. Turner would like the award to go to someone who plans on studying criminal justice, forensic science or some other type of law program.

The money was raised from friends, family and community members to make the scholarship fund possible.

“We put the information on Facebook, and people from Suffolk and all over have responded and donated money,” Turner said. “People can come and see me to donate the money, or they can go directly to SunTrust Bank. So far, we are doing pretty good.”

To apply for the scholarship, students have to fill out an application and submit a 300-word essay on how to eradicate gun, drug and youth violence in the city of Suffolk. Applications can be mailed to P.O Box 3225, Suffolk, VA 23439.

Turner and her family will not decide on winners themselves. The scholarship fund has a committee of current and former educators to look over the applications and essays to determine the winners.

While the goal is to give at least $500 to three students, if the fund continues to grow, they will make the awards even larger.

“If we collect more than $1,500, we are going to apply it all to the students. We will continue to take donations. Next year, we want to do the same but even increase it,” Turner said.

Turner is hopeful that they can alert students of their awards prior to each school’s senior night. She hopes to go and present them with a check at the ceremony.

Turner is happy to have a scholarship fund in her son’s name, but she still feels the pain of the loss every day.

“We miss him terribly. I miss him every day, and not knowing where he is hurts,” Turner said. “Newport News Police Department has done a great job on this, but they just need more information.”

Anyone with information on Russell’s disappearance is asked to contact Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. Tipsters can also submit tips through the free P3 Tips mobile app, by going to or by visiting the Suffolk Police Department website at and looking for the Suffolk Crime Line link. Tipsters never have to give their names or appear in court and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.