Families rally to recall victims of unsolved murders

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 20, 2016)--Clarence Wade Havvard knows what it's like to lose a child to murder and still wonder who and why.

Havvard’s namesake son was shot to death last summer not far from the site of a rally Sunday afternoon to recall the victims of unsolved homicides and their families.

“I wake up in the morning thinking about my son. I go to work thinking of him. I go to sleep thinking of him. It's just a constant thought in my mind,” said Havvard, the father of three sons who died violently in unsolved killings during the last decade.

The “We Will Never Forget Rally” was held at North United Methodist Church just a couple blocks from where Wade Havvard and three other people were murdered over the course of two months late last summer.

Greg Wilson, Jr., was slain near 30th Street and North Capitol Avenue late in October while his father served as a top aide to then-Mayor Greg Ballard.

During the rally, Greg Wilson, Sr., called on the current administration of Joe Hogsett to do more to find answers to dozens of unsolved killings that have wracked Indianapolis’ African American community.

In 2015, approximately 60% of killings involving black victims were solved while nearly 90% of murders of Caucasians resulted in arrests.

Investigators say the disparity in solve rates is often related to the cooperation they receive in different communities.

“I feel for what some of these people are going through. Murder has been in our family as well,” said IMPD Assistant Chief Randy Taylor whose father-in-law was slain in Fort Wayne several years ago. “The big issue is getting people willing to come forward and testify in court to what they’ve seen or what they know and that’s probably the most difficult thing for us to get over the hump with.”

Clarence Wade Havvard walks the streets of his South Butler/Tarkington neighborhood with a heavy heart, accepting the condolences of friends, not knowing if they hold important clues to his son’s murder but are holding back information.

“I’m wondering if they’re afraid to talk or someone trying to protect someone else or whatever it is,” he said, “and speaking to me and pretending nothing happened. There’s a lot of fakeness and the person that done this is a coward.”

Taylor said sometimes families of murder victims feel isolated and ignored and he is encouraging homicide detectives to stay in more frequent touch with those families even if to report there is no progress in their case.

Those attending the rally then walked to the 3900 block of Graceland Avenue where ten-year-old Deshawn Swanson was murdered when gunmen fired on a house that had been raided during a narcotics investigation in early 2015.

Though several family members were gathered to celebrate the passing of an elderly relative, and investigators believe they know the target of the shooting and the motive behind the gunfire, no one has provided IMPD with the clues to make an arrest.

“A house full of people and no one seems to know who done it,” said Havvard who lives nearby. “That doesn’t sound right to me.”

The sentiment of the rally seemed to be that it would take significant courage on behalf of the community to stand up to violence and change a culture where cooperating with police to protect families and residents is akin to “snitching,” a prison term that ministers and attendees agreed had no place in Indianapolis neighborhoods.

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