Murder victim’s mom is still on a mission, but keeping her distance
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org October 22, 2013 4:00PM
Joined by family and friends, Sara Jackson (center) walks the 1000 block of Spruce Street on Saturday, May 11, 2013, to pass out flyers and talk to neighbors about her son, Quiane, who was shot and killed on April 23. "I'm coming every month until there's justice," Jackson said. "I'm not going away." | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:29AM
Sara Jackson wants to return to Aurora. She has a lot of unfinished business here, all of which revolves around the murder of her son Quiane Smith six months ago on Spruce Street.
But every time she gets in her car and heads north on Route 59 from her home in Joliet, Jackson says she gets violently sick to her stomach and has to turn around. One time, on her way to the police station to retrieve her 26-year-old son’s belongings, she got so lost it took three hours and specific directions from an Aurora detective to finally get to her destination.
“I had to stop along the side of the road for 90 minutes,” she recalls, “just to calm myself down” enough to drive on.
Jackson knows these sudden health and direction issues are “all in my mind” … a grieving mom’s response to the loss of her son, a father of three himself, who had been visiting relatives in Aurora the night he died.
Around 9 p.m. on April 23, Jackson said Quiane and his cousins stepped outside, where bullets began flying from an apparent drive-by. Her son was struck once in the head and was killed.
Jackson traveled to Aurora a few weeks later to “see the spot where he had died.” But that visit served another purpose. She and a crowd of about 50 supporters descended upon this Spruce Street neighborhood that is close to West Aurora High School, where they marched from block to block, singing songs and handing out fliers.
Most importantly, they talked to residents, encouraging them to speak up if they knew anything about the violence that suddenly erupted in this mostly quiet neighborhood.
At that time, Jackson vowed to return to the area once a month, to continue marching and searching for answers until an arrest was made.
“But every time I start heading toward Aurora,” she says, “I have to turn around.”
Jackson was offered grief counseling by the Aurora Police Department’s Victim Services Unit, and while she appreciates the gesture, “I just can’t go back” to this area, knowing her son’s killers are “still walking around.”
Jackson sought therapy through her employer’s insurance plan, but talking to someone who has not been through this kind of loss, she says, is not the answer. She plans to seek out a victims group in the Joliet area.
In the meantime, Jackson keeps in contact with the detective working this case, and hopes some of the tips coming in will result in an arrest. Police say three men were held for questioning in the shooting but had to be released for lack of evidence.
Police sympathize with this mother’s loss and say they want nothing more than to bring her a sense of justice. This murder, says spokesman Dan Ferrelli, was not a random act of violence, and detectives have a good idea of what happened that night. But proving it is a challenge, he added, because there are “strong indications” the crime was drug-related.
They are continuing to process forensic evidence, Ferrelli noted, which is time-consuming. There are also plans to re-canvass the neighborhood because officials are certain some people know more than what they are saying.
“And that his frustrating,” he said.
Like Jackson, police hope someone will remember something or come forward.
“It is not unusual in these types of cases that even small details can help us fit the pieces of the puzzle together,” Ferrelli says.
Those who have information are asked to call investigators at 630-256-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000. All callers can remain anonymous.
“People are just afraid to speak up,” says Jackson. “And by remaining silent, you are empowering these thugs to do it again.”