Lannie Jones hasn’t returned to Fort Wayne in about eight years.
“And then last week, I was able to find that strength,” said Jones.
That’s because Fort Wayne is the city where her son, Frederick Jones, was shot and killed at a college party 10 years ago.
“He came back home several times throughout his freshman year, but never, ever did I think that that last time -- and I replay that last time he walked out that door, for spring break -- that I would never see my child again.”
Fred Jones was born on March 7, 1989, and grew up in South Bend. He was a baseball player -- right field, mainly, but he could play the other two outfield spots just fine -- and his talents earned him opportunities to play at numerous schools.
Instead, he decided to go to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He would major in business marketing, with the goal of successfully trying out for a baseball team in the future.
Fred would not get to live out his dream. On the night of April 5, 2008, just one month after his 19th birthday, Jones attended a party in an apartment on Timberhill Drive, right across the street from his place. At 2:45 am on the morning of April 6, an argument broke out between two other partygoers, which led to one drawing their gun. Jones was hit by gunfire, and would die soon after from the wound.
In the ten years since Fred Jones lost his life, the shooter has not been found. According to the Fort Wayne Police Department, there are no leads as to who the shooter might be.
Lannie Jones and Fred’s father, Fred Teague, made their way back to Fort Wayne last week. Now they’re appealing to the public for help in finding the shooter that took their son’s life.
“It’s been ten years. I have been existing. I haven’t lived for ten years,” said Jones. “Because every day I wake up trying to figure out what happened, and that somebody is still walking knowing they committed this crime, knowing they took a precious life.”
“My son’s life was cut short before he could even begin to even enjoy college and everything that the world had promised for him,” Teague said. “You’re moving on now, I know you have your families, your careers, everything else. But I’m just asking you, I’m appealing to your heart, to give my son some justice.”
“Someone knows something. They saw something,” said Jones. “We’re asking, we’re pleading, someone please do the right thing, please give justice for Fred.”
Jones and Teague said they’ve already forgiven the shooter, whoever it may be, but want to see them held accountable for taking Fred’s life. They expressed an understanding that their son’s death may very well have been an accident.
“Truthfully, I don’t even believe that you’re a killer,” said Teague. “You shot one time in this party, and you unfortunately hit somebody. And I think even the police department and prosecutor’s office would understand that.”
“But you dodging responsibility is not helping you,” he added. “Come forward, tell your story. We understand that in this day and age children are emotionally influenced and led. You did a bad thing, but you’re not a killer. Don’t keep acting or functioning as one. Please come forward. Please.”
So, what can residents do? If they know something, Jones urges Fort Wayne residents to reach out to the Fort Wayne Police Department or Crime Stoppers with information.
“You may think that what you hear or what you saw moments before or after this event may not be important, but maybe you saw something or heard something that you can share,” said Jones.
“Maybe some pieces are missing that can be put together, and maybe we can find this justice that Frederick deserves.”