Reporter asks for help on unsolved Youngstown murder project
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – I need your help.
After 20 years of reporting on crime, I’m usually the one people turn to for help. Whether it’s cops, lawyers, informants, or family members of the victims, hardly a week goes by when someone asks me to research something for them or write an article about something.
Sometimes I can help. Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes when I can’t help people understand and sometimes not.
But it normal. That’s how this business works, especially when emotions are involved.
But now I need help. I need anyone who is a relative or friend of an unsolved Youngstown murder victim from 2001 to today to contact me. My contact information is below.
Every year around the New Year, I go through my notes or stories and try to come up with a couple of big projects that I can do for the year ahead. Some of this I was able to do, and some I didn’t.
As I reviewed my work at the end of 2022, one of my activities during this slow day was to file all of the unsolved murders in the city of Youngstown since 2001 into a file on my computer. I thought it would be nice.
It took almost half a day (I’m a fast typer, anyone who’s ever worked with me can attest to this) and when I finished, 276 names were printed.
That’s a lot of names.
When I finished, I knew I wanted to do something with this list in 2023, but I wasn’t sure how I should do it. It took me a while to figure this out, which is typical;
I’m going to write an article about each of these unsolved murders.
And to do that, this is where help comes in. I hope to talk to as many friends or relatives of anyone on this list as possible. I want to tell our readers what these people were like. I want to make a personal connection, not only to tell their stories, but maybe someone who knows something about their case will pick up the phone and call the police.
That’s a lot of stories, and while I finally decided on my project (or at least one of them, because I have several others), I immediately had other questions.
The main question was how do I do it?
Will I do a story a week? Will I do them in order? What happens if I can’t find the detective or officer who handled the case? What if I can’t talk to the victim’s family or friend?
This caused a start delay while I was trying to figure it out, and after discussing some ideas with friends and colleagues, I decided that I would start as soon as possible with cases where there was information or people to talk to.
If there is a case where a detective or family member is unable or unwilling to speak, I will still make a story. I have access to old newscasts and old newspaper articles (some of which I probably wrote) so I can still put something out so they won’t be forgotten.
And I think it’s important. One of the things that still amazes me is how we move from case to case. Head to the crime scene and they’ll take the body away in the coroner’s van. You type a story and follow a case and move on to the next one. Jury verdict in murder case. Make a story and move on to the next one.
Obviously I have feelings, but except for a few cases that stand out and sometimes hit me in the dead of the night, I move on. I’m covering the next one.
But many people cannot move on because it is too painful. Although we may have forgotten, they are not.
And we need to know this in Youngstown. I’m not so naive as to expect a flood of phone calls to detectives or people rushing to the police station in the dead of night to pour out information they’ve been holding onto for years.
But you never know. Over the past four years, police have been able to solve missing persons cases dating back to the 1990s. In each case, they released their information and asked for help, and in each case, they received clues that helped them at least identify them. So it can and does work from time to time.
Perhaps enough of these stories will break the cycle of apathy that has gripped some of our neighborhoods.
The stories won’t be in chronological order, and I know I won’t finish them all this year. But I will keep making them. I will continue until I’m done. I will follow. Since I started working on cold cases at WKBN in 2019, I have noticed several such murders and will return to them after I go through the list.
I also hope that if no one talks when I write the first story, someone will call and I will make a sequel. It’s much better when I can tell people what the person was like in order to establish a personal connection with the reader who might know something. I want this connection to push them to call the police.
I know that not everyone will be happy about it. I heal old wounds. And I understand it.
But I look at these names and can’t help but feel empty. So many lost lives. There are so many scarred people around.
That’s why I need your help. And so do they.
If anyone is a friend or relative of a Youngstown murder victim from 2001 to 2023 whose case remains unsolved, please email Joe Gorman at [email protected].
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