This is the first 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
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been 15 years and 77 days since Michael Zylberberg Jr. was killed, but his family is no closer to justice than they were on that terrible day when he was gunned down in Newport News.
Known affectionately as “Mikey,” the 17-year-old was walking home from a store on Chestnut Avenue when he was gunned down at 7:01 p.m. on March 31, 2007.
“Every day is a heavy heart for us,” his mother, Maria Chavez, said. “We just need closure. Not that that’s going to help my broken heart, his broken heart, but just so that we can finally put this to rest and not think, and hold these people accountable for whoever did it. That’s all we’re asking.”
Although witnesses told police they saw two people run from the shooting scene, no one has been charged in the high school senior’s killing.
“That’s a piece of life that can never be given back. Never. I want people to know this can also happen to you,” his father, Michael Zylberberg Sr., said.
Michael Zylberberg was a jokester who loved to make people laugh. When he wasn’t pranking his friends and family, he was playing basketball and baseball or attending summer camps.
“There was not a time when he wasn’t doing something to keep him off the streets,” Chavez said.
A prankster — but not a troublemaker. His mother moved him from New York to Newport News to give Michael Zylberberg Jr. a better life. Although his father remained in New York, he was devoted to his son. His father called the teenager every single day and stayed on top of his education.
“I was never fearful because of the friends that he had, the people that he knew, the person that he was. I was never fearful of him being on the street and somebody trying to hurt him, trying to be malicious and hurt him, because of the person that he was,” Chavez said.
But Michael Zylberberg Jr. wasn’t only a good son — he was also an amazing big brother, cousin, godson, and grandchild.
“An all around friend,” his father said, tearfully. “He was great, and he will always be missed. Every single day. Every day, he’s missed, and he knows it. I tell his younger sisters, ‘You guys have a good life. It’s because your brother’s an angel. He’s watching out for you.'”
The passage of time has done nothing to fade the Newport News Police Department’s desire to make an arrest in the 17-year-old’s death. On the 15th anniversary of his murder, detectives, friends, and family canvassed the neighborhood where Michael Zylberberg Jr. was killed, eagerly searching for that tip that will bring closure to the case.
“My fear is that it becomes to be acceptable. It’s just another shooting, but it’s not. It’s just another homicide, but it’s not. It could be seconds away from your family,” Newport News Police Department Chief Steve Drew said.
Anyone with information about Michael Zylberberg Jr.’s death can submit a tip anonymously to the Crime Line at P3Tips.com or contact an investigator directly:
- Detective T. Allen: (757) 928-4246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lieutenant R. Fish: (757) 928-4202 or email@example.com
- Captain Randall Petrosky: (757) 928-4201 or firstname.lastname@example.org