A man who showed up for a regular day of work in 1995 found what would later be identified as Tabitha Guth’s body.
Plenty of people were around when gunmen crept between two Fernwood Avenue homes and shot Racole Hill. Kenneth Collins was found unconscious in his car, stopped in the middle of the road; a gunshot wound in his left side killed him. An uncle found his 28-year-old nephew, Andrew Baker, and Baker’s girlfriend, Tanja Cathey, shot dead inside their central Toledo home.
Each case is as different as each victim. What they all have in common is a case status: Unsolved.
Toledo has an untold number of unsolved homicides, some nearly as old as the city itself.
“Something has to change. Something is wrong in our world, in Toledo. Something is wrong, and if we as a people, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunties, if we don’t step up and say, ‘We’re not going to take it no more,’ we’re going to be extinct,” said Tanya Staples, whose son, Rudy Staples, was shot dead outside his Potomac Street apartment on July 21, 2013. No arrests have been made in that case.
Cases go unsolved for many reasons: Lack of evidence, no — or uncooperative — witnesses, blind allegiance to a “no-snitch” culture that favors street justice over courts. Sometimes all that stands between a conviction and a cold-case file is one piece of evidence, one person willing to testify.
“People are so afraid or just so into saying, ‘No snitching,’ or ‘No telling,’ ” said Tiffanie McNair, whose boyfriend, Christopher Lawrence, was shot dead on Aug. 22, 2011.
“When you have someone who has lost their father, their grandfather, their son ... you can’t pretend this didn’t happen and keep your mouth closed. It’s so hurtful that people would rather keep up this code of silence rather than offering someone’s family member’s peace of mind and closure.”
Every weekday since July 21, The Blade has highlighted a different unsolved Toledo homicide, speaking with friends and family members hoping to find answers and justice. The cases are online at toledoblade.typepad.com/ridealong/unsolved-toledo.
When Tabitha Guth’s remains were found on West Laskey Road on Sept. 21, 1995, her daughter, Tessa, was 13 months old.
Finding who killed Ms. Guth, who was 19 — the same age her daughter is now — would be as much for Tessa as anyone, said Veronica Seimet, Ms. Guth’s best friend.
“I think her daughter deserves answers,” Ms. Seimet of Toledo, said. “Her daughter deserves to know what happened to her mother.”
Anyone with information on an unsolved homicide is asked to call Toledo police Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111. Callers may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.
Anyone who would like to have an unsolved homicide profiled by The Blade should email tdungjen@theblade or call 419-724-6054.