BRIGHTON, AL (WBRC) - The Brighton Police Department is working to bring its evidence collection system into the 21st Century. This comes after court documents say the department lost crucial evidence in a murder case. In the meantime, Brighton is working with other agencies to solve cases. In some cases, family members have been waiting years for justice.
"These people are killing our children,” Vera Willis whose son was gunned down over three years ago said.
Willis is still living a nightmare. Her son Robert Howard, a Marine, was shot and killed in April 2015. The case remains cold. Willis says the case was moved to Bessemer because she feels Brighton Police doesn't have the resources to find her son's killer. "I can be at ease and my family's at ease with knowing that they are working diligently to solve this case..its the most senseless killing I've ever heard of,” Willis said. "This is my baby and I want to know do you have any information about the case?” Leverne King said about her son’s case.
King is also wanting answers. Her son Phillip was shot and killed two years ago in Brighton. King says not having some closure haunts her. She says she's been getting the run around from investigators "I told them I need some kind of closure. Somebody needs to be held accountable because they still out there. They can hurt someone else,” King said.
We're told there are at least six cold cases in Brighton that the district attorney’s office is working to prosecute.
Recently, charges were dismissed in a 2015 murder case in Brighton. Court documents claim Brighton PD lost the gun and shell casings that were allegedly used in the crime. That news sparked heartbreak for the victim's family and frustration from the Jefferson County District Attorney for the Bessemer Division.
"A lot of things that we can't talk about but progress has been made. We have a long way to go but we have moved from first base,” Lynneice Washington, the DA for the Jefferson County Bessemer Division. Washington has a team of investigators working to solve the cases. "I just want the families to know that, their loved ones. Their deaths did not fall on deaf ears,” Washington said.
The families are counting on that. "My hope is that we get justice. That the person or persons that had anything to do with it gets off the street,” Willis said.
Brighton's new police chief is frustrated with the way evidence has been collected over the years. He’s taking steps to reorganize things to prevent anything like this from happening again.