Keith Holmes, Sr. still doesn’t understand why no one will tell him the truth about what happened to his son, Tevin Nelson.
Two years after Nelson was shot and killed, there are no arrests, no charges and no reason for his death. Investigators continue to fight a culture of silence from witnesses, even though dozens saw or heard the gunshot.
“I want somebody to step forward, speak up, and just say ‘this is what happened and this is how it happened,'” his father told ABC 17 News Wednesday. “So we can put the pieces of the puzzle back together because there’s a piece missing and someone knows where that piece is.”
It was the day before Tevin’s favorite holiday, Halloween, in 2011. Nelson told his dad he loved him, he was headed out to have fun and left. That was the last time Holmes, Sr. saw his son.
What Boone County deputies can say about his death is still limited. Nelson was leaving Pepper’s Nightclub on Range Line, just north of Columbia well after midnight.
“We are pretty confident we have the right people and that we know what happened up there that evening,” detective Tom O’Sullivan said. “But without independent corroboration from witnesses, we really can’t proceed.”
Several shots were fired and Nelson dropped. He was be taken off life support and died on October 31.
“I miss my baby, I miss my son and it bothers me everyday,” said Holmes, Sr. “I bothers my heart to know he’s not coming back through that door to make me laugh and to let me know he’s safe.”
At his Columbia home, Holmes, Sr. keeps pictures of his entire family. But visitors will find pictures of Tevin in the living room, next to his grandmother who died earlier this year.
“She fought a hard battled and she still wanted answers about what happened to her grandsons,” he said.
Tragedy seems to follow Holmes’ family.
Months before Tevin’s death, Holmes, Sr.’s nephew Donnell Coleman was gunned down in his apartment. That case is still unsolved and still open.
His younger brother and brother-in-law were both killed in the past few years as well.
“When you lose a child after 21 years for no reason and there’s still no reason two years later and no answers, it makes you wonder,” he said. “It makes you look at life a little differently, makes you want to change the way you do things.”
During the past several years, Holmes, Sr. said he kicked drug and alcohol habits and spends as much of his time with his sons as possible.
As he pointed to pictures on his walls of other Columbia teens and young men who had died in shootings the past two years, he acknowledged the culture of silence and the culture of revenge that overtakes some youth.
“I know what it’s like to be a part of the gunplay, the knifeplay, the drugs and alcohol.,” he said. “I’ve seen it, done it, been there. There comes a time when that stuff got to be laid down.”
Holmes, Sr. has started a group with other fathers and community leaders to help reach young children in central Columbia. The Silverbacks planned a Halloween event in Douglass Park this year.
Meanwhile, Boone County deputies are still looking for witnesses to come forward in Tevin Nelson’s death.
Anonymous tips can be left by calling CrimeStoppers at 875-TIPS.