Investigators are offering $50,000 to produce a break in a three-month-old homicide of a 14-year-old boy.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has authorized the $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot Tyrick Keyes on July 16, said Chris Collibee, the governor’s press secretary.
Demethra Telford, Tyrick’s mother, said she has been frustrated that no arrest has been made yet in the case. In an interview at her Read Street home, she wondered aloud how cops could bust drug dealers and child protective service workers remove kids so quickly, while her son’s case seems to drag on.
“They say, ‘OK, we’ll let you know when we hear something,’ then take a long time to return my calls,” Telford said of detectives working the case. “At the end of the day, this is my child.”
Telford, who called herself “one woman [cops]’re gonna hear about,” said she doesn’t plan to let the pressure off the police department. “My son is not gonna become a cold case,” she said. “I just wait all the time for that knock on the door [from a police officer] to say, ‘We got ‘em.’”
The governor’s office acts on recommendations by the state’s attorney’s office in posting rewards, said Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso. With the investigation ongoing, he declined to say whether the police have identified potential suspects. “Our investigation is progressing,” he said.
Generoso said that while he can’t identify a specific local case in recent years in which a posted reward helped lead to an arrest, “I know they have worked in the past. It doesn’t help the majority of cases but there are instances when rewards have helped. We’re leaving no stone unturned —anything we can to solve this case we’re speeding up.”
State Rep. Robyn Porter, who helped get the funding approved, said the reward money could be an “important” way to “spur someone to come forward and speak.” Porter said that the unsolved murder in her district is a “public-safety issue, undoubtedly,” but she also called on her neighbors to help detectives solve the case.
“That’s why it’s so disturbing that this gap seems to be widening between the community and police around trust. Somebody in this community — as a matter of fact, I bet quite a few — know who did it,” she said. “As a community, we cannot ask an outside agency to do what we aren’t doing for ourselves. We have to hold ourselves and our community responsible.”
Telford, meanwhile, has been a visible presence throughout the Elm City since her son’s killing (including at a recent march through the Ville). She’s hung poster-sized pictures of her son at Fair Haven Middle School, where Tyrick graduated two months before his death, and Hillhouse High School, where he was headed a month later. She’s also working with her alder, Delphine Clyburn, to dedicate the intersection of Basset and Newhall Streets to Tyrick.
In her new public role, Telford said she has felt used at times, trotted out for photo-ops, particularly during the mayoral race.
She also said she can’t stand when people ask, “How are all your kids doing?” — a genuine inquiry that still reminds her one of her children is gone.
“Each day is a struggle. What keeps me going is to get pictures of Tyrick and to keep talking about him. At my break moments, I’m wondering when the killer will be caught and waiting to ask why did you do this to him,” she said. “Inside, I’m angry about how society works, about how New Haven works.”
She said did find one group that truly understands her. Dawn Spearman, the founder of a support group for Bridgeport mothers who’ve lost children to violence, and a few members recently came up to New Haven to meet with Telford. Now, each day, she receives a Facebook message telling her she’s not alone. The network is planning statewide actions aimed at gun violence.
Seeing how involved the group’s members are, Telford criticizes herself for not being more involved in political activism before. “I say this to other parents about myself: ‘Don’t wait to get here to fight for justice,’” Telford said. “‘We need your support now.’”