John Michael Eskildsen is accused of being the Virginia Beach neighbor who plays racist monkey noises at a Black family who lives nearby.
On September 30, 2021, CNN broke the story that a Virginia Beach woman named Jannique Martinez says her neighbor plays recordings of racial slurs and monkey noises when her family activates his sensors.
“The minute we found this home, I loved it,” Jannique Martinez, who is Black, works in health care, and has young children, told CNN. “It was everything I envisioned for my family and for raising my kids in a nice, quiet neighborhood.”
But the situation quickly turned into a nightmare. CNN did not name John Eskildsen as the neighbor, however. He was accused on social media accounts, including a page on Facebook
Online records confirm that Martinez lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They also show that she lives at the house 2005 on the street in question, and he lives at 2001. He is 47-years-old. Online records give his address, and photos of his home on Google Maps match the photo of his home on CNN. Heavy reached out to both Martinez and another neighbor about John Michael Eskildsen.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Martinez Posted a Video Accusing the Neighbor of Playing ‘Monkey Noises Towards Me & My Family’
Martinez posted a video on Facebook, writing, “In this day and age this is what me and my family have to deal with. My hateful neighbor plays this along with the monkey noises towards me and my family, EVERY SINGLE DAY!! There are no laws in the commonwealth that protect us from it. This affects my kids mentally and emotionally. It’s a sad moment for all of us!!”
The situation has gone viral on social media as the name John Eskildsen trended when he was accused of being the neighbor.
“My son is terrified of him. Terrified, terrified,” Martinez told WAVY.com. “The N-word situation… they came to me and said, ‘Mom, what’s that?’ I didn’t subject my kids to that. I didn’t think they would ever have to learn what this means.” She claimed the neighbor has multiple surveillance cameras.
Eskildsen has not responded to requests from multiple news outlets for comment.
2. The Virginia Beach Police Department Says the Behavior Is ‘Appalling’ But Doesn’t Rise to the Level of Criminal Behavior
Police have basically said that their hands are tied.
The Virginia Beach Police Department shared a statement on Twitter, writing, “The VBPD has responded to several calls for service over the past several months related to nuisance/loud music complaints on Jessamine Court. As appalling and offensive as the neighbors’ behaviors are, the city attorney and Virginia magistrates have separately determined that the actions reported thus far did not rise to a level that Virginia law defines as criminal behavior. This means the VBPD has had no authority to intervene and warrants were not supported. We will closely monitor the situation, investigate complaints and, within the limits of the law, help this family with this most unpleasant situation.”
Virginia Beach police told CNN that they are”acutely aware of the ongoing situation.”
“The observed conduct has been reviewed with the City Attorney for potential criminal sanctions; however, it was determined that the activity, though appalling, is not criminally actionable,” the Virginia Beach Police Department said in a statement to CNN.
3. Martinez told CNN the Neighbor Switches the Music Depending on the Neighbor
Martinez told CNN that the neighbor has a sensor with blinking lights. When her family leaves or returns to their homes “they all start to blink” and loud music plays. But he switches the music depending on which family activates it.
She said that the neighbor plays monkey noises. The family called police.
“Since that day he’s been playing N—– skits that he found online,” she said. Martinez said he plays skits that say, “Black people have nothing better to do but go to a comedy club on a Friday night,” and, “Hey everyone, look it’s N—– guy. Everyone say, ‘hi N—– guy.'”
NPR reported, “a man who lives next door blares monkey sounds, banjo music and racist slurs at Martinez and her family — a situation that went on for months.
4. An Old Bankruptcy Petition Says Eskildsen Worked in Technical Support
Heavy.com has obtained a 2005 bankruptcy filing in the name of John Michael Eskildsen through federal court records. It gave the name of a joint debtor, Marylou Licudo Eskildsen, and gave both of their addresses as the Jessamine Court address in Virginia Beach.
They were listed as having assets between 0 to $50,000 and debts at the same range, with 1-15 creditors.
They listed more than $20,000 in personal property. They only had $10 in their checking accounts and $965 in household goods.
At that time, his occupation was listed as technical support for Canon, where he had been employed for four years. His wife was listed as unemployed. His monthly gross income was only $2,10379.
The bankruptcy petition said that the couple was married with a 3 month old son and a 5 year old daughter.
Over the years, he earned between around $23-26,000 a year. Read the petition here.
Heavy found an obituary for Eskilden’s dad, Walter, who died in 2016. It says Walter was a civil servant in the federal government, a veteran, and active in his church. The obit lists his son and daughter-in-law, “John and Marylou.”
There is one case under his name in Virginia court records, but the details were not immediately clear. It appears to be a speeding ticket, as the case file notes “Charge: 58/45 SP.” His race is given as white in those records. His wife has cases for expired registration and failure to have a vehicle inspected in addition to a 2013 speeding case.
Marriage records on Ancestry.com show he was married in Virginia Beach in 1999.
No photos or obvious social media sites could be found for John Eskildsen.
5. Neighbors Have Rallied Around the Martinez Family
A woman who lives in the area helped organize a rally in support of the Martinez family, writing on Facebook, “We currently have some peace, and our neighbors do not have to endure the racial slurs directed at them! The support from the community has been amazing. We want nothing more to live in our homes in peace. Kids running around doing their thing without the nonsense! It ain’t over yet! But it’s a start!”
City officials have also defended the Martinez family.
“It may be legal, but it’s not right,” Council Member Michael Berlucchi said during a city meeting, according to Pilot Online. “We cannot let that stand in Virginia Beach.”
Virginia’s attorney general told The Washington Post that it was “unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Virginia.” His Office of Civil Rights is trying to help the Martinez family, The Post reported.
The sounds have gotten softer after the outcry, Pilot Online reported, adding, “The sounds play through a window roughly every 15 to 30 seconds.”