This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
That’s how Gina Byrd remembers her younger brother, Linton Walker.
Gina lost her protector in the spring of 2007 when 32-year-old Linton was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida. He was on his way home from a business meeting.
His body was found on a sidewalk near Lenox Court apartments in the 5700 block of Lenox Avenue, according to police.
Gina and Linton were raised by their mother to take care of each other. Her cardinal rule was, “You look out for her, she looks out for you.”
Gina described their relationship as very close. She considered herself his second mom, big sister, and best friend, all in one. Linton was loving, loyal, and a friend.
Linton, who was two years younger than Gina, was given the nickname “man” due to him being short but strong.
Gina said one day when they were children, she came home from school upset because a boy had pushed her down. Linton was so upset by the classmate hurting his sister, that he went to school with what Gina describes as “his little fists all balled up” and fought the kid.
Although Linton was smaller, he came out the victor of the fight.
Gina laughed as she described how Linton was often spoiled growing up. He adored go-karting in the dunes of South Carolina. The family was so nervous about him and the go-karts because of his size.
The undersized Linton was extremely athletic and super competitive. He despised losing more than anything. He played football but excelled in baseball. Despite his size, Linton was often called a “prodigy” and was scouted by major league teams in high school.
Gina says Linton was a loving person who had an infectious way of staying connected with people. He was an all-around good guy who people loved to have around, and he adored his children. Gina says that his funeral was packed with people who loved him and she was able to see the love that people had for him.
On March 4, 2007, Gina’s life changed forever when she lost Linton. March 4th is also her daughter’s birthday. She had spoken to him the night prior about their plans for him and his family to come over to her house for a cookout, but the next day he stopped answering his phone.
She could feel that something was wrong.
Gina reached out to Linton’s girlfriend and his best friend to see if they had heard from him or knew where he was. Both reported back that they hadn’t heard from him. That’s when Gina really started to worry.
He had been on his way home from a meeting when he was shot. He worked selling Jordan Brand clothing. He was planning to head to Gina’s house for the birthday party after he finished working.
But he never made it.
“It’s like he just disappeared,” Gina recalled.
2022 will mark the 15th anniversary of Linton’s murder. His 47th birthday will come and go as well.
Yet Gina still remembers her little brother as she had just seen him. She can recall his smile, his smell, even the specific t-shirts he would wear.
Vivid memories continue to flood Gina’s mind, almost as if Linton were still here.
Gina is working towards her doctorate in therapeutic studies. She hopes to assist families like her that have lost loved ones in traumatic situations.
“I hate this club that I’ve been forced to join,” she says.
But she wants to help make a difference with her fellow club members.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Linton Walker, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.
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