PORTAGE — Latricia Adams has lost her mother, father, two brothers and a 7-month-old grandson, who died of sudden infant death syndrome.
Yet nothing could have prepared her for the loss of her child, she said.
"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," Adams said. "Knowing you will not see your son come through that door again — it's like your heart has been ripped out."
Antonio Adams, 23, died from two gunshots to the back of his head in an alley behind the 700 block of Georgia Street in Gary.
A man collecting scrap metal found Adams' body July 16, two days after Adams' girlfriend flagged down a passerby near Eighth Avenue and Tennessee Street because she had been shot in the head.
The 21-year-old girlfriend — who was four months pregnant at the time — survived and later told police she and Adams had been shot by Donjulian L. Hobson, 22, of Gary, Lake Criminal Court records state.
Hobson, who had been friends with Antonio Adams' girlfriend since grade school, had been staying in the couple's apartment. Hobson was charged in August with murder and attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Latricia Adams held the girlfriend's hand when she gave birth in December, and cried when she first saw the baby boy. Her heart was filled with joy and pain at the same time, she said.
She loves the baby no matter what, but she still has so many questions about why her son was so violently killed, she said.
"I want to know why my son's brains got blown out in that alley," she said. "I know he didn't know what was coming. I just want to know what happened to my son."
Antonio Adams, the youngest of her four children, brought her so much joy.
He always welcomed her with hugs and kisses. He was generous and wore his heart on his sleeve.
"It just hurts me so bad because I know my son died from being too nice," she said.
Four homicides, one weekend
Antonio Adams was the last of four homicide victims found that July weekend in Gary.
Heather Talley, 27, of Hammond, was found shot to death early Sunday on the city's far east side, near the Lake Station border. Talley's fiance, Darius Ross, 28, of Gary, and the couple's friend Nicholas Edwards, 28, of Gary, were found shot to death hours later in a car parked near the city's downtown.
High temperatures soared into the low 90s during Latricia Adams' two-day search for her son.
She approached police at the crime scene where Ross and Edwards were found, asking if it might be her son in the car, she said.
She described her son's tattoos, including one on his chest with her first name and a halo. Police said it wasn't her son, she said.
The next day, her cousin called her and said police had found another body, this time near Seventh Avenue and Georgia Street.
She arrived but couldn't see much. By that time, police knew her. She asked if it was her son, but left without an answer.
Later that day, she got a call. Police wanted her to come to the station.
"I was at my son's scene and didn't even know it," she said. "That haunts me. I was there. That was my baby."
Because of the heat, Antonio Adams' body quickly began to decompose.
Latricia Adams couldn't look at photos of her son's body at the police station, she said. Family members told her it was bad.
She doesn't believe in cremation, but she felt she had no choice. Her son's ashes are now contained in a turquoise urn.
'He was my dancer'
She's grateful she didn't look at him in death because she can focus now on all the good memories.
"He loved his mismatched socks," she said. "He was my little Chris Brown."
He sang in the shower. He acted like a goof.
"He was my dancer, my hugger, my kisser," she said.
She misses him dearly.
"We meant the world to me. He loved his momma," she said.
Adams wasn't perfect, she said. He had been in trouble for carrying a handgun without a permit. But he was a good man, she said.
"Knowing the son I had — he was so kind. He wouldn't hurt a fly," she said.
He was excited about having a baby. He would have been a great father, she said.
Timothy Joshua, Latricia Adams' husband, said his stepson had a big heart.
"He was the type of guy, he would open his doors to anybody," Joshua said. "And it hurts."
Not many black boys have a father in their lives, but he and Antonio connected, he said.
"It's just so many mothers losing their kids," he said. "I'm tired of seeing this."
Latricia Adams said she often advised her son to choose his friends wisely.
"He didn't have a clue," she said. "He just trusted everyone."
'I'm out for justice now'
Latricia Adams must now put her trust in God, she said.
"I'm out for justice now," she said. "I can't get my baby back."
She went to Hobson's court appearance in this month.
"That was the first time I saw him face to face. I never saw him in my life," she said. "So that was hard for me."
Adams said she plans to attend every court date. She's preparing for the possible presentation of evidence during Hobson's bail review hearing, which is set for mid-May.
By the grace of God, her son's girlfriend survived and helped police secure charges against Hobson, she said.
But Hobson gave police a conflicting story, and court records don't answer all of her questions. Why was her son shot? Were other people involved? If so, she wants them prosecuted.
What she knows is her son didn't deserve to die, she said.
She smiled as she shared a video of her family singing to her son for what was his last birthday.
As his 2-year-old nephew sat on his lap, the "Happy Birthday" song came to an end.
"I love y'all," Antonio said.