July 16, 2018 | By Steven Thompson
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
It’s been nearly a decade since Willie James Jackson was murdered on the streets of the city in which he grew up.
Yet police are no closer to solving the crime than the night it happened.
The years of waiting for justice has taken a toll on Jackson’s family.
The sorrow has certainly been oppressive for Lydia Seabrook, Jackson’s mother. She remembers her son fondly and is committed to finding his murderer.
“I went back to the area of Willie’s murder,” she said. “I tried looking for clues, surveillance cameras, anything to help solve his murder.”
Her son was murdered nine years ago in the 7000 block of North Main Street in Jacksonville.
Jackson and a friend had just left Sam’s Food Shop a little before 11 p.m. when they were approached from behind by two black males on the evening of Oct. 14, 2009. Jackson was shot multiple times. His friend managed to run away.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to an area near the intersection of East 61st and Main streets and found Jackson, 24, bleeding and unresponsive.
Seabrook remembers the call that next morning as if it were yesterday.
“My husband and I were out late that night. The phone rang at 2 a.m. It was Willie’s girlfriend,” Seabrook said. “She was in hysterics. She was calling to tell me that Willie was murdered. In shock, I immediately dropped the phone.”
At the time, sheriff’s officers were still searching the area.
“We canvassed the area and people did hear gunshots and there were numerous leads,” said JSO Detective R.A. McClain.
One person volunteered a DNA swab but was later determined not involved in the murder. A photo lineup was shown to witnesses however they were unable to positively identify the suspects.
All leads were eventually exhausted and the assailant who killed Jackson is still at large.
The case has been passed on to Richelle Starling, a retired narcotics officer and current Logistical Technical Service Officer with JSO. She works with detectives who are working to solve cold cases.
Starling said because more than one assailant was involved, at some point more information about the case could materialize and lead to an arrest.
What Seabrook wants people to know is the Jackson who loved dogs, singing, pears, banana pudding, spaghetti and playing his trumpet.
“Everybody loved him,” she said.
Seabrook said her son was a devoted and loving father to his two children Liquauiyon and Kaniyah Jackson, now 13 and 14, respectively. Her son had no known enemies, she said.
Jackson’s aunt, Louemma Wyche, said her nephew was special.
“Willie had a heart of gold,” said Wyche. “He had so much love inside of him and he gave so much of that love.”
His love for others was evident by the crowd at his funeral. Wyche said there were so many people at the Rosa Glover Holmes Memorial Chapel that it could hardly hold everyone.
“It did not surprise me that people of all colors were there. Willie’s love was the glue that kept this family together,” said Wyche.
Both Seabrook and Wyche agree there will be no peace until his killers are caught.
Wyche implores those responsible for killing him to man up and turn themselves in. “I pray for their souls because they will answer to our father God,” said Wyche.
Jackson’s mother believes someone – somewhere – has the key to solving Jackson’s murder.
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