Child homicide solved with community involvement, officials push for more tips

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A month ago in the 2800 block of W. Ann Street in Peoria, 4-year-old Jeremiah Ward lost his life.

Then again, on Wednesday, the river city lost the life of another minor: 16-year-old Zarious Fair.

“Everything needs to just stop,” said his aunt, Brianna Funches. “What happened to us just going to the street and just fighting with our hands instead of pulling out guns?”

Dozens came out for Fair at a vigil Thursday.

Those friends, family and others, though, shared a sense of closure knowing the suspects were behind bars.

That’s not the case for half a dozen other homicides in the River City, like Ward’s.

“This shows when the community steps up and gets involved, that helps us do our job and we can get a successful resolution quickly in these cases,” said Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion at a press conference.

In all, six homicides out of 2019’s twelve don’t have a suspect: Kedron Murphy, Alijah Sumrell, Braden Huerta, Michael Shipley, Louis Salazar, and Jeremiah Ward.

“Why nobody is cooperating in Jeremiah’s case, I don’t have an answer to that,” said an exasperated Chief Marion. “The other cases where they did cooperate, we’ve made arrests in.”

Back on West Ann, the street is quiet on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Peoria Community Against Violence (PCAV) Vice-President Gloria Clark says that silence speaks volumes.

“Take control of what’s going on, and know what’s going on, what’s happening in your neighborhood,” she said. “I think that’s the only way we’re going to be able to do it, if people stand up and say enough is enough.”

Clark talked about one of the biggest hurdles facing Peoria: apathy.

“I don’t care if it sounds like we’re beating a dead horse. Let’s keep beating that dead horse until we get results,” she said.

“Lets get results for Jeremiah. Lets get results for these other homicides.”

Gloria Clark wanted to share her cell phone number: (309) 397-3402. She says anyone who wants to talk or submit a tip without going to police can always call her and stay anonymous.

PCAV will be hosting a Community Movie Night Friday at 8PM at Sovereign’s Grace Church, 1505 W. Martin in Peoria.

Anyone who would like to volunteer should show up at 7PM.

Mason Dowling

Mason Dowling

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