CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — The search continues as police look for the man they believe shot and killed grandmother and mother Karen Baker on July 13.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officials released the photo of the suspect Thursday — eight days after Karen was killed — leaving many to wonder, why did it take so long?
Police experts say it’s all about timing.
The words will never be easy and as Karen Baker’s family search for answers about why she’s now gone, Charlotte-Mecklenburg investigators are looking for her killer.
“I think any time when you look at that kid talking about his mom, everybody is crying on the inside,” said Dave Walker. He’s a former police sergeant, who led a homicide team that was featured on the national TV show, ‘The First 48,’ for four years.
Not only is Walker an expert in homicide investigations, but he has his own podcast called, ‘Solve ‘Em: True Crime Cases.’
“Especially this type of robbery — with a murder, these guys are active. We don’t want another one, it’s important for us to get there,” said Walker.
It took police eight days to release the photos of the man, they believe, killed Karen. Walker said it depends on the philosophy of the department, but some agencies will hold on to photos and others will release them right away.
“Anytime that law enforcement talks to the media on a case like this, you’re talking to the suspect too,” said Walker. “So, the suspect is now knowing that they have pictures, they have photographs. I bet you they have more than that, if they’re doing their job, because they’re going to go to businesses within that area to see what kind of video they have at that time.”
WJZY sat down with Police Chief Johnny Jennings on Friday to ask him that question. Jennings said they held off because they didn’t want to mess up their case.
“If you put something out too soon, you risk flight of that individual, so if they’re working leads, and leads that are fruitful, they’re going to continue to do it,” said Jennings.
Jennings said police often have to go through legal hoops to get video from banks or businesses. While he didn’t say how long police had the photographs, he did say, at first, they didn’t ‘own’ them.
“We don’t own those photos; we don’t own the surveillance. So, when we start looking at cases like that, where we have surveillance footage, it might take us a while for us to actually get that footage from the company, or the company, or whether it’s from a ring doorbell or something like that,” said Jennings.
Walker said it’s not just video from the ATM that police are collecting.
“The video systems now, are the criminals worst enemy. It’s not just of the crime scene- it’s a mile in and a mile out- and you can almost, hopefully, find them to their house,” said Walker.
He said there are times to hold onto photos, and the biggest mistake here was made by the man police are looking for.
“When we’re talking to the suspects, you can turn yourself in now or you can wait for us to come get you,” said Walker.