Five Years Later, Cleveland Mother Retains Hope Her Son's Murder Will Be Solved

“I’m just not stopping until I get some answers"

click to enlarge Johnshae’ Boyd Bey - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Johnshae’ Boyd Bey

Kenetta Bey wakes up and starts every day the same way — by visiting the
National Gun Violence Memorial website and lighting a virtual candle for her son, Johnshae’ Boyd Bey.

“Every morning, I wake up, I light a candle on that page for him,” says Bey.

There’s not a day that goes by where Mrs. Bey isn’t focused on her son’s murder case. Whether it’s making phone calls, sending emails or sharing information on social media, Mrs. Bey’s life consists of putting energy towards her late son and solving his homicide.

“Then I check all my emails to see whether or not I have any response from anybody. Then I start posting things [on social media] about my son,” she says, describing her daily routine. “And if, you know, physically I’m okay, I’m passing out flyers. That’s my life.”

Johnshae’ was a popular photographer who Mrs. Bey describes as creative, selfless and community oriented.

He had come back home to Cleveland, from Miami, where he lived at the time, to attend his grandfather’s funeral. On September 16, 2019, Johnshae’ and Bey were at her youngest son’s football game when a friend of Johnshae’’s called him, stating that his sister wanted to see him.

Johnshae’ drove his grey, rainbow-wrapped corvette to Park Place Apartments, where he was shot and killed. Five years later, his case remains unsolved. Only one arrest has been made, but it was in connection to a different case.

“The world lost my son’s affectionate smile in his transitioning,” says Bey, as she reminisced. She prefers to use the word ‘transition’ instead of ‘death.’

“Because it is when he smiles that your mental is shifted in such a way that those negative feelings you embraced would be altered by [his] positive vibes instead,” she says.

According to a 2019 report done by the Cleveland Health Department, the national rate of homicides committed by guns was 11.9 per 100,000 residents. The homicide rate involving firearms in the city of Cleveland was three times the national average with 30.7 homicides committed by guns per 100,000 residents. They found that Black male residents in Cleveland who were between the ages of 18 and 24 are disproportionately the victims of gun homicides.

While Mayor Justin Bibb, in his most recent State of the City address, said that the city's homicide clearance rate is near 80%, it hovered near 50% for many recent years. And FBI stats don't match the cities, as News 5 Cleveland detailed, and staffing remains woefully low compared to recommended levels.

Along with having to take the investigation of her son’s death into her own hands, the lives of Mrs. Bey and her family are filled with fear and constant suspicion.

“The [feeling] of safety is off because we don’t know who’s involved,” says Bey. “We’re always suspicious with people, you know what I’m saying? Why are you trying to get close to me? Why are you sending me a friend request? We’re constantly on pins and needle. Like we can’t live a regular day.”

Crime Stoppers has offered a $5,000 reward for any tips that could lead to an arrest and conviction for the death of Johnshae’.

“I’m just not stopping until I get some answers to what happened to my son.”

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