Family, investigators meet in 2008 toddler killing

2013-09-12T09:30:00Z 2013-09-12T21:05:25Z Family, investigators meet in 2008 toddler killingChristine Kraly christine.kraly@nwi.com, (219) 933-4195 nwitimes.com

GARY | You expect more from your family, Samuel Shaw said Thursday. 

That's just what Shaw considers the room full of police officers gathered to talk about his grandson's killing: family.

The former federal prison officer, with his wife and his daughter, Kwana Shaw, joined investigators to discuss the death of Kwana's 13-month-old son, Josiah. 

The five-year-old case is now being reviewed by the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force. Members of the force from Griffith to St. John met at Gary Police Department with Gary officers working the case, as well as multiple members of the Lake County Prosecutor's office.

Charges have never been filed in the toddler's killing, a fact that touched too close to home to Samuel Shaw among his law enforcement brethren.

"I kind of expected more," he said. The boy's killing "ripped my heart out," he said after addressing the group of officers.

Since the killing that also injured her, Kwana Shaw has been quietly hopeful about the case. More meek than her father, she remained cautiously optimistic Thursday.

"I really would like to see some kind of justice," she said. "It does seem possible for the case to be solved."

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram, who was not with Gary at the time of the murder, said he sought Major Crimes' help because he wanted a fresh set of eyes to see where holes might be plugged in the case.

On Jan. 28, 2008, Kwana Shaw was buckling her son, Josiah, into a car seat in the 500 block of West 21st Street when a man approached and shot her. Police later found the boy wounded in the abandoned SUV. He died from gunshots to the chin and pelvis.

In the days after the crime, Gary police named the boy's father a person of interest in the case. In July 2010, Kwana Shaw filed a civil lawsuit against him and his brother, alleging the two caused Josiah's death. The civil case remains open.

The Shaws, community members and officers have questioned why no criminal charges have been filed. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter has called the case's evidence frustratingly weak, a point he angrily hammered home to detectives Thursday.

The Shaws quietly listened as Carter praised his staff, but said they've been stymied by evidence they say isn't strong enough to proceed to trial. "I have to balance that with what the law says," he said.

It isn't a matter of not wanting to prosecute murders, he said, noting his office has pursued more than 200 homicides since Josiah's killing. "This baby needs justice," he said.

Major Crimes typically doesn't work cold cases, its vice president and spokesman Robert Byrd noted. But when it has — once, in 2011, on the 1980 murder of Hammond officer Larry Pucalik — it resulted in charges. 

Task force commander and Dyer police Sgt. Donald Foley will coordinate efforts with Gary police Cpl. Jeff Hornyak, Byrd said.

Prosecutors and officers pleaded again for the community's help in providing information to solve the case.

Their words echoed those Kwana spoke months after her son died, in July 2008: "You know people know," she said then. "It's going to unravel."

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