Families of victims shown on billboards hope for closure yet relive pain
The Seattle Police Department on Tuesday launched a first-of-its-kind campaign, unveiling billboards and bus ads that each feature the photos and names of three or four of the 18 homicide victims in Seattle since the beginning of 2010 whose cases remain unsolved.
Seattle Times staff reporter
'Who Killed Me?'
Tips: Can be phoned in to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS; submitted online through the Crime Stoppers website at toppers.com/">www.crimes toppers.com; or sent via text to 274637 (type SPD, followed by your tip).
Victims: A list of victims of unsolved homicides from 2010 to present can be found on the Seattle Police Department's website at www.spdblotter .seattle.gov/catch-a-killer. The website eventually will include information about all unsolved cases dating back to 2000.
Source: Seattle Police Department
Valentina Vega cried when she saw her brother's face on a billboard Tuesday morning near the corner of South Graham Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South.
"It's very emotional for us," said Vega, the elder sister of Danny Vega, who was fatally beaten during a robbery in South Seattle in November. His killers have not been caught.
Though she said seeing the billboard "just brought back very sad memories," Valentina Vega and relatives of several other victims of unsolved homicides appealed to the community to call or text tips to help Seattle police arrest suspects.
The Seattle Police Department on Tuesday launched a first-of-its-kind campaign, unveiling billboards and bus ads which each feature the photos and names of three or four of the 18 homicide victims in Seattle since the beginning of 2010 whose slayings remain unsolved.
The billboards and bus ads — which are being placed in areas and along bus routes near where victims lived, hung out or died — ask "Who Killed Me?" and include an appeal for those with information to break their silence.
"We need closure, our families need closure. It's heart-wrenching to go through this," said Marcia Westbrook, who traveled from New Mexico to attend Tuesday's news conference. Her younger sister, 21-year-old Nicole Westbrook, was randomly gunned down in Pioneer Square in April, three weeks after moving here to attend culinary school.
"We're still hoping and praying someone will speak up," she said.
Marlo Williams broke down when she saw a photo of her son, Desmond Jackson, alongside photos of Vega and Westbrook on a temporary billboard unveiled outside the Filipino Community Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Jackson, 22, was fatally shot outside a Sodo nightclub in February.
"I have an 8-year-old son who walks in fear every day because of his brother's death," Williams said, her voice breaking. "If there's anybody — and I mean anybody — who has any information to help us solve Desmond's case, please, please come forward."
Dwight Guy, of Kent, didn't take the podium to address members of the media, later explaining that he and his wife always had been "publicity-avoidant people." But since the body of his wife, Greggette Guy, 51, was found in the water off Beach Drive Southwest in West Seattle in March, "it's part of my responsibility to do what I can to catch her murderer," he said.
Wednesday is the couple's 31st wedding anniversary, Guy said, his eyes turning misty. He says he frequently drives his wife's car because he finds it comforting.
The homicide detectives working the case have "been very professional and considerate," but have made it clear that "there's not a lot of evidence and they really need to rely on tips," Guy said.
The Rev. Harriett Walden, director of the Silent War Campaign which seeks to address black-on-black crime and one of three community members on a Police Department committee that planned the campaign, called for "a new agenda, a new normal" that encourages people to come forward with information.
"These billboards will remind our community that someone knows something. It's not OK to be at the grocery store or the bus stop" with a killer, Walden said.
To support the campaign, ClearChannel Outdoor is contributing free billboard space worth about $60,000 while Titan Outdoor, the company behind the ads that will run on Metro buses, donated approximately $11,000 worth of work. In addition, the Seattle Police Department spent $6,700 and the U.S. Department of Justice provided $5,600 for the effort.
Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz noted that detectives on Monday arrested a suspect in the nearly four-year-old killing of Quincy Coleman, a 15-year-old who was fatally shot outside Garfield High School on Halloween night 2008. He credited tips from the community for the arrest and said the case proved that no piece of information is too small in a homicide investigation.
"Somebody knows something," he said. "People are out there who have information, and we're asking you to take that next courageous step ... so justice will prevail."
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com