Mon December 30, 2013
After An Unsolved Murder: Trying To Find Peace In The Memories
So far, there have been 58 homicides in Charlotte. And we don’t usually hear much about the people and memories they leave behind. WFAE's Tasnim Shamma tells us a little more about the life of a 24-year-old Charlottean murdered last summer.
In September, CMPD hosted a vigil for homicide victims. Family members lit candles, sang songs and remembered those who were murdered. This was the same month when six people were killed in as many days.
One of the individuals murdered in Charlotte this year was 24-year-old James Warren Price II. Friends and family called him Warren. He was murdered July 26.
The Fatal Night
He had just attended his first Lil Wayne concert with his fiancée, Ariana Toval on July 26.
"We were like the only people singing every song that came on – lyric by lyric, word by word," Toval says. "That was the funnest times we've ever had."
But some trouble started when they arrived at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. She says a group of men started hitting on her, but the couple ignored them.
After the concert, that group followed them to their car. Words were exchanged, and then a fight ensued in the parking lot. Warren was stabbed in the heart. Ariana says he died in her arms.
"I remember him laying down on the floor when the paramedics came and his head was laying on my purse," Toval says. "Paramedics came, pulled me off of him and as soon as I got in and they were like, 'Sorry, he's gone'."
Trophies, Sneakers ... And Memories
Framed photos of Warren hang throughout the home of Warren's mother, Elaine Price. He was a big guy – six feet, 300 pounds. A shelf in the family’s den is crammed with trophies he won as a child. Price shows off a medal he won while playing for a youth football team, the East Mecklenburg Panthers.
"This is what ESPN presented him, Kris Jenkins of the Carolina Panthers," Price says. "He gave it to him, he had the most tackles of the season."
She talks about how he and his brother would sneak out of the house late at night to play basketball or when they would have dance parties that shook the house.
Warren attended Independence High School, but dropped out his junior year. Elaine says it was because gang members were giving him trouble. Warren eventually got his GED in 2011 and took classes at Central Piedmont Community College.
He earned a living as a sneakerhead out of his apartment – buying and selling high-end basketball shoes like Jordans, Lebrons and Foamposites.
It's been difficult packing up his life.
"To actually have to sit and talk to somebody about funeralizing your child and then have to go through that state, I don't wish it on nobody, but I know it happens, but I never thought it would happen to me."
She says it’s tough to pass by places they’d been to together. Like her old workplace. She was a nurse's assistant and activity director at a nursing home. Warren and his younger brother used to help feed her Alzheimer’s patients. When the doorbell rings, she still expects it to be him, even though she knows it’s not.
She says it's Warren's friends like Lawrence Williams who help her get through some days. Williams remembers Warren for his ability to calm people with his sense of humor.
"It was one day, we got off work. Everybody tired, mad. Me or my brother one of us was mad, here he come, rolling up out of nowhere. Smiling. Everybody got mad looks on their face," Williams says. "'He like, 'Dang, who stole all y'all hamburgers??' I was like, 'Dang.' I just had to laugh. 'Man, Warren, you ain't got no sense, man.' So everybody kind of lightened up then."
Searching For Justice
These memories help Elaine, but they also make her realize what her family has lost. Sometimes, she feels guilty for the punishment she wishes on the people who killed her son:
"I feel like they took a life, they should get the same thing," Price says. "You know? And I know I shouldn't feel like that, because I go to church, but right now, that's where my heart is and I got to pray to try to get it from like that. But I don't feel like a person that could walk and take another person's life deserves to be walking around."
But police have no suspects. Longtime friend Kewarren Ardrey doesn’t understand why police are having so much trouble.
"If you're at a concert, I know there's cameras out there. I know there's people," Ardrey says. "They could have stopped a lot of people and asked questions. But it's as if nothing's going to happen. I feel like it's just going to ride out."
And that makes it even harder for Warren’s family and friends to move on.