Huntsville Police, victims' families say cooperation with law enforcement is vital

The parent of a murder victim says uncooperative witnesses keep murderers out on the street.

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 7:06 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2019 7:16 PM

Huntsville Police are investigating two separate shootings that sent two people to the hospital Tuesday night.

One happened on Blue Springs Road and the other happened at an apartment complex on Clinton Avenue. Investigators say the victims and witnesses in both cases aren't cooperating, so no arrests have been made. It's something police and one Huntsville mother said is far more common than some people think.

"A victim that's not cooperating. Why? Is there something there that they're hiding? That's usually the case," said Donna Howell, the parent of a murder victim.

Donna said she's dedicated a part of her life to remembering the young victims of violent crime in Huntsville. She's wanting change after her son was killed.

"I got to hold my son. He was shot right here, and I held him until the police got there. I close my eyes and that's all I see," said Howell.

Donna Howell said she keeps reliving December 30, 2014. That's the day her 16-year-old son, Larry, was shot and killed near their family's home.

"It's the day he was murdered every day, until his killers are caught," Howell said.

More than four years later, no one has been arrested for the crime, but she's said her son's friends admitted to her that they know what happened.

"When I think of all these people that knew him and say, 'I loved him,' but they refused to testify, that's just cruel to do the family," Howell said.

Huntsville Police said Howell's family isn't the only one left without an arrest in its case. Without cooperation, it makes it nearly impossible to get criminals off the streets.

"The frustration comes from different angles. One of those is having to deal with the victim's family's grief. And the passion that the investigations have to actually do the job," said Huntsville Police spokesperson, Michael Johnson.

Howell said she's turned her family's tragedy into a way to help others by creating an angel garden containing almost 60 faces of young adults and kids murdered in the past few years.

"I'm angry. I'm angry that our community lets this happen, because I can't blame the police. They can only arrest them and the victims gather information," Howell said.

Her goal is to wake the community up so victims and witnesses start cooperating. She's left hoping she won't have to add another face to her garden anytime soon.

"I know the saying, 'Snitches lay in ditches.' My saying is, 'If you speak up, snitches will keep bodies out of ditches,'" said Howell.

Huntsville Police are urging anyone who's been a victim of a crime or who knows anything about any unsolved case to come forward.

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