JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than seven months after a 17-year-old Ribault High student was gunned down on Jacksonville’s Northside, her family is still pleading for answers.
They are working to keep her case in the public eye through T-shirts and masks.
A small memorial remains in the Sherwood Forest Neighborhood near Norfolk Boulevard and Portsmouth Street, where Inandi Wyche was shot and killed on March 19 while sitting in a car.
Her uncle cried over that memorial Thursday after he and other family members joined the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and city leaders to beg the community to come forward with any information.
“I come here mostly every day, you know, and talk to her, let her know I still love her. She’s in my heart. She will never be forgotten, and for as long as I’m here, I’m going to continue to live her legacy, keep her name alive,” Ellia Wilson said.
Wilson said he thinks about his 17-year-old niece every day and a few weeks after her murder, he started to think about how he could spread the word about her case.
He’s made shirts, masks, wristbands and hats to honor his niece and is even looking to start a business in her name.
“Her uncle, he’s a force to be reckoned with,” said Inandi’s mother, Monique Wyche. “We’re grateful that they haven’t forgotten. It’s so many murders in the city and they just fizzle out and nobody fights.”
Wyche said that won’t be the case for Inandi and her family. She said the fight for justice doesn’t just stop with her daughter, either.
“Other people have lost their lives,” Wyche said. “We want our community back. And we have to get these murderers off the streets.”
A $5,000 donation Thursday from the Fraternal Order of Police has increased the reward to $11,000 for information leading to an arrest in Inandi’s case.
Investigators have received seven tips so far, but several of them haven’t panned out. Now the family is hoping an increased reward generates more answers.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said the homicide unit with JSO is overworked, so they need the community to speak up.
Jefferson said seven months later, detectives are likely interviewing the person who was in the car with Wyche and doubling back on previous tips they’ve received to try to solve the case.
JSO detectives said there is nothing better than a witness coming forward with information. You can call CrimeStoppers to report a tip and remain anonymous at 1-866-845-TIPS.
‘Let’s not make this about money'
Inandi’s classmate, Winston Seabrooks, described her as a bright light in every room.
“It really really hurts that she’s not here,” he said.
He said it also hurts him to know she was a victim of violence in their neighborhood.
“For far too long in our dilapidated African-American communities, this is what we have dealt with,” Seabrooks said.
State Rep. Tracie Davis said Duval County is in dire need of state funding for intervention and prevention resources, and that it shouldn’t have come down to a reward to get information.
“Let’s not make this about money. Let’s make this about ensuring this family has some type of peace,” Davis said.
This has been the cry for communities across Jacksonville dealing with trends of violence.
Seabrooks said this is what the Northside and Eastside of Jacksonville are, unfortunately, used to. He said the city’s investment in Cure Violence doesn’t seem to be paying off for all communities.
Seabrooks said he wants the same action and steps to cure violence in other communities brought to his.
“It’s hard because that is the lifestyle that they have been offered. That is the lifestyle that they see. When you see poor, when you see it, you become it. When you see violence, you become it,” Seabrooks said. “The question lies: how can we break that in the city? And now we’re making all of this big noise because it’s in Arlington now, but when it happens over here, it’s another day for us to move on.”