PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It was just before 9 p.m. on Aug. 31, 2011, when killers came to the front door of 32-year-old Leon Golliday when he was home with his family.
There was a heated exchange, and as Golliday tried to close the door, the people opened fire. Bullets flew by his 5-year-old son who was sitting on a sofa, but Golliday, whose loved ones called Jay, was shot in the head. He collapsed and landed at his daughter’s feet.
Ten years later, his family gathered at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Twelve doves were released in memory of Jay, and two doves were released in memory of his father, who died in August 2019. The dove handler had these words of consolation for the family.
“When I release these doves today they will be going home,” he said.
The unsolved homicide hit close to home for Jay’s sister Patrice Bondo, both personally and professionally. She is a veteran criminal investigator. Her resume includes duty as a Suffolk police officer.
“It hits home being in that career field and having it happen so close to home,” Bondo said.
Bondo, with law enforcement contacts across the country, called the Portsmouth Police Department a week before the 10th anniversary for an update on the status of the investigation. The family says the case has been a cold case almost from the beginning.
“The police department says they’re lacking resources, manpower even less now than there were 10 years ago,” Bondo said.
In response to a 10 On Your Side inquiry, a Portsmouth police spokeswoman sent information about staffing and case closures.
“Cold cases are reviewed by detectives based on their ability to investigate and/or evaluate information in between receiving new cases. Unfortunately, current staffing does not allow for a full-time cold case squad. The case is reviewed when a new lead comes in that requires follow up. This lead could come from a new witness, co-defendant, or other sources that have turned up information,” the spokeswoman wrote.
Homicides have gradually increased in the last five years in Portsmouth, police said.
Number of homicides in Portsmouth by year:
- 2016: 13
- 2017: 16
- 2018: 19
- 2019: 18
- 2020: 34
The average number of homicides by year is 20, the spokeswoman said. The percentage cleared by arrest is 61%.
Police departments in Hampton Roads and around the country are reporting a shortage of officers just as violent crime is on the rise.
As the case remains unsolved, family members say the stress associated with Golliday’s violent death has harmed their health. “Yes very much, yes very much … mentally and physically it has affected me,” said his mother. “I have no answers; none at all, a cold case they are not looking at anything,” she said in assessing the status of the investigation.