The call crackled over the police radio at 5:55 p.m. on the last day of 2004. A shooting in the parking lot of the Giant at 1050 Brentwood Road NE.
D.C. homicide victims’ kin say they’ve been left in dark for years by police
Nearly eight years later, the memories of that day came rushing back to Jade Foster as soon as she entered that parking lot for a newspaper photograph. Foster does not go there often. She does not like to imagine her father’s final thoughts before a gunman walked up and shot him at close range as he stood at the back of his red Chevy Tahoe sport-utility vehicle, where he had been chatting with a female acquaintance and her young daughter.
“It’s not my favorite place to be,” said Foster, 26. “A dull thud is always there. It’s just louder at this moment.”
Hodge’s slaying is one of more than 1,000 unsolved homicides in the District since 2000, according to a Washington Post analysis of the police department’s homicide records. There are more than 2,300 others dating as far back as 1960, according to police officials.
The deaths of Hodge and the thousands of others whose slayings remain unsolved have attracted little attention outside the neighborhoods in which they occurred.
It is a truism in law enforcement that the chances of solving a killing are cut in half after 48 hours, and that cold homicides can be notoriously hard to close. D.C. police have mounted several cold-case initiatives in recent years, but some family members contacted by The Post say they do not know what has happened to their cases.
Foster, a poet and graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest and Sarah Lawrence College in New York, said she does not understand why police have not found her father’s killer. At least two people witnessed it, Foster said: Hodge’s friend and her child.
“I think they just don’t care,” she said. “It’s as simple as that.”
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier promised to “reach out to the family” after being told by The Post that Foster said that detectives have not kept in touch with her.
“My experience has been that providing answers to loved ones in open homicide cases is critically important regardless of how long it takes,” she said. “I personally think the fact that we are making an effort to bring closure to cases that have remained unsolved for so many years is very important to our community.”
In the Hodge case, police listed the motive as “unknown” in their records.
Foster, then 19, was home from college on winter break. She was driving down Southern Avenue when her cellphone rang. It was one of her dad’s female friends. The woman’s voice quivered.
“Someone killed your father today.”
Foster pulled off the road.
“Everything was a blur,” she recalled.
Foster then drove to her grandmother’s house in Largo, went into the kitchen and cried. The man who spoiled her rotten in her teenage years, to make up for the 10 years he was away in prison on a drug conviction, was gone. The grief was unbearable. She had lost her mother to AIDS three years earlier.