ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) — Dozens of murders in Rocky Mount are still unsolved mysteries and the families of the victims are still desperate for answers.
It’s been 20 years since Andre Avent’s brother was murdered and investigators still have no leads.
“He has a killer still walking around eating, living, enjoying life,” said Andre Avent.
On December 29, 1999, 19-year-old Melvin Avent was shot and killed at the intersection of Luper and Mullins streets.
Andre Avent says he was on the phone with his brother when he died.
“I heard somebody running, chasing him and I’m like ‘what’s going on, is this a movie or is this something that’s not real?’ Because I didn’t even know it was my brother on the phone until at the end when I heard him say ‘you don’t have to do that to me’ and they shot my brother,” Andre Avent recalled.
Melvin Avent’s case is just one of dozens of murders in Rocky Mount that remain unsolved.
“Where are the resources? What does Rocky Mount do? Nothing,” said Andre Avent. “Like I said, just another cold case.”
A year ago CBS 17 reported about a new cold case homicide task force created by Rocky Mount police.
“When you work the case and it goes cold, it tends to sit on a shelf,” said Don Mosley, Interim Division Head of Criminal Investigation for the Rocky Mount Police Department.
Mosley says the task force was made up of retired officers that worked with investigators to solve these cases.
“We couldn’t keep up with the pace of the panel that was working the case,” said Mosley “They weren’t actually doing any fieldwork, they were strictly sitting in here looking at the cases, reviewing evidence and were ready to move on when we hadn’t had a chance to run down all the leads.”
Now, only one full-time investigator is dedicated to solving cold cases and one part-time retiree comes in to help.
“It’s a slower process,” said Mosley. “It’s a more methodical process then we originally thought it was gonna be, but I think in the end it’s gonna pay dividends, if for no other reason that we can get the cases caught up to a current level of competence.”
From 1996 to May 2018 Rocky Mount had 51 cold cases.
CBS 17 asked police for an updated number but they said they weren’t sure because their reporting system had changed, however they believe the number is around 55.
“Two people to solve 50 some odd murders,” said Andre Avent. “That’s it? Where is our taxpayer dollars going? I guess they just want to sweep it up under the rug.”
Just for comparison, Rocky Mount and Chapel Hill are similar size cities. CBS 17 called Chapel Hill to see how many cases they had open during the same time period. They told us they have zero cold cases.