By DeNeen Brown
Sunday, March 14, 2010; W04
Five years ago, when Valencia Mohammed got news that her son Imtiaz Mohammed had been fatally shot in his car in the 800 block of Rittenhouse Street NW, she vowed that his homicide would not slip into the thousands of unsolved slayings in Washington.
Despite a grief so profound that only other mothers of slain sons could understand, she traced Imtiaz's last days, distributed "Wanted" posters, found witnesses and begged detectives to stay on the case. She called a news conference on the steps of D.C. police headquarters and announced: "My son Imtiaz is dead. Find who killed my son."
Imtiaz, 23, was the second son Valencia had lost to violence. Her younger son, Said, 14, was shot in his bedroom on Somerset Place NW on March 21, 1999. Said's homicide remains unsolved.
In the case of Imtiaz, whose nickname was "M," it would take months and hundreds of phone calls to close the case. Valencia questioned people who may have seen something, looking into their eyes for some kindness that would betray the street code that demands silence. She kept a constant vigil, not wanting the murderer to be convicted by a street justice of retaliatory murder.
On June 21, 2005, Raymond McCoy, 26, was charged with murder in the death of Imtiaz, though it would take almost three years to try him. In 2006, a Washington Post Magazine story described Valencia's efforts to solve the murder and those of other young men and to push the city to build its own forensics lab to help speed those cases. In May 2008, McCoy was convicted of premeditated murder in Imtiaz's slaying. In September 2008, McCoy was sentenced to 35 years in prison. In February 2009, Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced that the city would break ground on a $220 million forensics lab.
Valencia periodically inquires about Said's case, noting, "Every six months, they call and put a new detective on the case."
Recently, Valencia returned to the site of Imtiaz's homicide: The letters spray-painted on the sidewalk -- "R.I.P. M" -- are fading. In the distance, there's a clinging from bells of a wind chime. A cold wind whips down the block. Valencia is chilled. "I was relieved when Raymond McCoy was convicted," she says. She wraps her scarf around her. "I got justice," she says. "It just took a lot out of me."
Read the original story: To Catch a Killer