EAST ST. LOUIS — One week after her daughter was killed, the mother of Ebony Jackson-Shelton made an emotional plea for anyone who saw or heard anything regarding the murder to come forward.
Stella Jackson asked that anyone with information provide, anonymously if they wish, police the information they need to make an arrest.
Jackson said her life and that of her close-knit family will never be the same. Her heart, she said, was broken into a million pieces when she got the tragic news that someone had killed her daughter.
Jackson-Shelton came to the area a week ago to show off her 3-month-old son to family who had not yet seen him -- a son she thought she would never have due to a brain tumor that she suffered a few years ago, which led to many other surgeries. She was going to see a cousin in St. Louis County, but she never made it to his house. Her body was found in the trunk of her car Wednesday in the 4400 block of Elmbank in St. Louis.
Police said she died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head. St. Louis Police are handling the investigation.
"I come here with a rather humble heart. Our family has gotten so much support, so much love has been given to us. It's amazing the support we've received," Jackson said.
Jackson-Shelton was her only child.
"How anyone feels like they could take anyone's life and it's OK, I don't understand," Jackson said, breaking into tears. "She was happy -- a sparkly, laughing person. She loved people. I am at a loss for words about what's happened."
She and David Robinson, who is the father of Jackson-Shelton, and many other family members who were at the East St. Louis City Hall Friday afternoon, wore the pain on their faces. All of them said they knew of no enemies Jackson-Shelton may have had, and they don't know how she could have come to be a murder victim.
A deeply Christian family, Jackson said the strength she has been able to muster in the days since she got the tragic news of her daughter being missing and then found dead has come from her family and her faith in God.
Robinson also credited his faith in God for keeping him together.
"If I didn't know God, I don't know how I would act. She was just like me -- she acted like me. She is my baby. I believe in God; God is good. I believe He is going to help the family get through this tough time," he said.
Robinson said his daughter "was energetic and always smiled. And she loved that baby boy."
An aunt, Susie Smith, traveled to East St. Louis from Paducah, Ky., after she learned what happened to her niece.
"I was shocked. I just couldn't believe it," Smith said. "I totally lost it. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I had my kids checking things out on Facebook for me."
Smith urged the shooter to surrender.
"Eventually, you're going to get caught. Somebody's going to tell it. You can't run forever," she said.
Smith said her fellow church members at Heartland Baptist Church in Kentucky have been praying for and with the family.
"Prayer helps a whole lot. Without it, I don't if I or any of us would have gotten this far," Smith said.
Elrico Mosley, a cousin, said he prays that God will deal with the devil inside of the person responsible for his cousin's death "to make him come forth and confront this terrible crime that he has committed."
The Pine Lawn (Mo.) Police Department collected $8,000 at what it called "a toll road" in St. Louis and turned it over to CrimeStoppers, to be added to the $1,000 reward that CrimeStoppers was providing to capture the killer.
Pine Lawn Police Chief Rickey Collins said donations are still coming in, and police will probably still be accepting donations until Friday at the Pine Lawn City Hall, located at 6250 Steve Marre Ave. Anyone who wants to contact the Police Department can call 314-261-0880.
Collins said the story of what happened "touched my heart."
"We always reach out to other communities. The mayor (Sylvester Caldwell) and I talked about it and collectively decided that a toll road would be a good vehicle to use to collect donations," Collins said.
He added: "Four days into the New Year, the baby was found abandoned and the mother was reported missing. Then, she was found murdered. We didn't want to see the New Year start like that. We hope the reward money will lead to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for this crime."
Jackson said the family is appreciative for what Pine Lawn police have done.
"They are not involved in the investigation. They stepped up because they care. I am very humbled. The police chief was out on vacation and he came into the department to do what they did. Thank you. Thank you," Jackson said.