NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s not what birthday parties normally look like, and that’s because Wednesday’s celebration was anything but normal.
“Well, today would have been Montinez’s 33rd birthday,” said Nedra Jones, Montinez’s mother.
However, unlike other birthday celebrations, this one is centered around memories.
“It’s been rough, very rough,” she said. “The back of my shirt says, ‘Touch your nose mama,’ but that’s not the way he would say it; he would say, ‘Mama, touch your nose,’ he tried to say I was nosy.”
If you look closely at Jones’ hat, you see a number that doesn’t represent an age, but instead a sign of how she feels on a daily basis.
“Oh, he would have loved the hat. He would have loved it. He would say, ‘Look at her! She’s crazy,'” Jones said. “I know this hat has a one on it, but to me it’s just like one; he’s been gone nine years, but it seems like it just been one like it was yesterday.”
Jones’ son, Montinez Johnson, was 25 years old when he was shot and killed. He had just put his daughter down to sleep and was standing outside his apartment with two other men when Metro police said someone ran up and shot all three of them.
“My heart dropped because he was just laying there lifeless, and he was like me, the life of the party, liked to have a good time, and was laying there lifeless,” Jones said. “Somebody just going to come along and take somebody’s life, you know, for nothing. That was nothing. Whatever happened, there was no reason to take nobody’s life. It’s never a reason to take anyone’s life, and then go run and hide, because that’s what the person’s doing is hiding.”
Jones isn’t the only one waiting for answers. Outside of the Napier Community Center, it wasn’t just a vigil, but a prayer for answers.
The vigil was held by Partners in the Struggle, as part of their 14th consecutive year in bringing an awareness to highlight unsolved murder victims in Nashville.
On a poster board were three faces and three corresponding names of those who left behind families heartbroken after their murders.
All of the three homicides are still unsolved.
“I’m hearing a whole bunch of sounds like ambulance or fire trucks or police cars, just a lot of sirens going on. I’m just like, dang, something bad must have just happened near me. Little did I know where I live was one street away from where they engulfed my brother’s body,” said Kimberly Groves, the sister of Dewayne Leggs.
Leggs was a proud father and grandfather. In 2021, he was shot multiple times, before Metro police found his body inside a minivan at a church parking lot in Goodlettsville.
The crime was caught on surveillance cameras that showed a roaring fire.
“Worst night of my life, worst smell of my life, and there still has been no justice for my brother,” Groves described. “My brother will never come. He’ll never come home, but I know he is in a better place because here, this is hell on earth without him.”
If you or someone you know has any information on any of these cases, you are urged to call Metro police at 615-862-8600.