This is the second episode of WAVY-TV 10’s new “Unsolved” series. Each month, we will investigate an unsolved murder and speak with the friends, families, and police officers working tirelessly to find answers in these killings. Our goal is to highlight the impact of gun violence in our communities and show that no death should ever be a statistic.
Do you have a suggestion for an unsolved murder we should investigate? Email the team: email@example.com
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Darren Gray’s mother says she hasn’t slept well in more than 12 years — not since that sunny afternoon in May 2010 when her oldest son was beaten, shot, and killed in Lafayette Park.
“My whole life is dedicated to finding his killers and getting justice for him,” Roycinda Alexander said of her son.
Darren Gray was the oldest of five children. His sister, Shanté Gray, has fond memories of their childhood, playing basketball and football at Lafayette Park. Now, the sound of kids laughing on the playground and the sight of boys playing pickup basketball games don’t bring her any joy.
“This place — there’s nothing beautiful about it,” Shanté Gray said.
It was the afternoon of May 8, 2010 — the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Darren Gray and his girlfriend were at Lafayette Park to attend a child’s birthday party. A pavilion decked out in balloons and picnic tables covered in snacks, sodas, and a birthday cake for the celebration would soon become a crime scene.
“It’s a place where families want to go, and they want to have fun. They want to enjoy their day, they want to enjoy their kids … they want to enjoy it without having to worry about getting shot down and killed,” said Detective John Smith.
The first sign of trouble came in the form of a handshake.
A man walked over to Darren Gray and shook his hand, singling him out to a nearby group of men. It wasn’t long before those men approached Darren Gray and began beating him. Then, someone in the group shot the 24-year-old nine times. He died right there in the park.
Smith worked the murder the day it happened. He’s still working it today as a cold case investigator for the Norfolk Police Department.
“Some of these unsolved cases that I have are some of my cases as an investigator,” Smith said. “It’s hard because you’ve got families that want answers, and you want to be able to give them the answers. Sometimes the only answer you can give them is, ‘We’ve done all we can do.'”
Although Darren Gray’s murder happened in a public place, in broad daylight, no witnesses have come forward to identify the person who shot him — including four men who were convicted of beating him before he was killed.
“To know people know, that’s a slap in the face,” his sister, Shanté Gray, said. “No one wants to talk until it happens to them.”
Darren Gray’s loved ones described him as the glue of their family. When he was murdered, the family fell apart. His death destroyed his mother’s marriage, her career, and her relationships with her other children. His murder robbed Shanté Gray of her best friend. It left his other siblings without their big brother and their children without their uncle.
“When you kill a person, you don’t just kill that person. You kill the family members. You kill the mother, the father, the brother, the sister, the aunt, and uncle,” Smith said.
“You ravage the family. You wreak havoc through the fabric of the family,” he added.
Anyone with information about Darren Gray’s murder can submit a tip anonymously to the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or at P3Tips.com.