Shirley Bell said she spent three weeks watching her son die after he was stabbed in 2005, and she has spent nearly seven years trying to find information on his killer.
“I’m at a standstill as to how I will ever get closure,” said Bell of Laurel.
But after her son, Brian Moses, was stabbed in the Grove neighborhood of Laurel, Bell helped start a reward system in the city that has raised thousands of dollars to make sure others who lose loved ones are not left with the questions that plague her.
“I say this all the time, but it probably won’t help in my case,” Bell said. “But for the next person who loses a son or a family member, or a loved one or even a friend, it could help.”
Moses, 20, was stabbed Sept. 15, 2005. He tried to drive himself home after the incident, Bell said, but crashed his car near the Laurel Municipal Center, where police found him.
Bell tried to get money available through the Laurel Police as a reward for her son’s slaying when he died Oct. 9, 2005, hoping someone with information would come forward. But the Laurel Police Department, which is handling her son’s case, did not have a system for reward money set up at the time.
Bell began working with Mayor Craig A. Moe, and in September 2007 the city established the Laurel CrimeLine, which has raised about $27,000 through Laurel police fundraisers.
“We just wanted to try to put the word out there to get people to talk about crime in the community,” Moe said. “Hopefully it’s proving to help out in areas with crime.”
As the seventh anniversary of Moses’s death approaches, his name and face finally have made their way to the Prince George’s County Crime Solvers, along with a reward up to $25,000. Bell said she hopes the increased visibility and potential for reward will bring some information to the surface.
Prince George’s Crime Solvers works out the amount of a reward based on the usefulness of a tip in landing an arrest, said Zel Windsor, coordinator of the nonprofit organization.
Windsor said she had not been informed of Moses’s case until recently, when she got information from the Laurel Police Department to post the case on the Crime Solvers Web site, www.pgcrimesolvers.com, on June 27.
In the past, Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin said, it was very difficult to get county Crime Solvers funding for local cases. When the department contacted Crime Solvers recently, McLaughlin said the process was easier.
“We created the CrimeLine partly so that we wouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the county [Crime Solvers] money,” McLaughlin said.
City spokeswoman Carreen Koubek wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette that no tips received by the Laurel CrimeLine have resulted in an arrest, so no money has been issued. The Prince George’s County Crime Solvers, however, gave a total of $65,000 in reward money in the past year to individuals who submitted tips, Windsor said.
Prior to Moses’s murder, McLaughlin said, the community didn’t need an incentive to come forward with tips.
“Laurel has grown,” said McLaughlin, who has been an officer on the city police force since 1986. “Because it was a small, close-knit community, crimes were usually solved quickly. But the community has changed, the demographics have changed and it’s not a close-knit community like it was before.”
Still, McLaughlin said, the Moses case is a rarity.
“The whodunit murders are few and far between,” he said, adding that the police department has not needed to offer the CrimeLine funds often. “Usually we know right away who committed a crime.”
In the case of Bell’s son, McLaughlin said, investigators think there are witnesses to the crime, but they have not come forward, even with the reward available.
“I’d like to give her some closure,” McLaughlin said. “A parent should not have to bury her child, and if they do, they should have the questions like Miss Bell has continually had, asking ‘why,’ answered.”