SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The family of a young mother gunned down in front of her baby daughter and fiancé in a car-to-car shooting at an Encanto intersection 20 years ago Wednesday gathered on the sorrowful anniversary to issue a public plea for help in finding her killer.
"It is really painful every day," said Gloria Jimenez, mother of Crystal Odom, an 18-year-old Morse High School senior slain on the night of April 29, 1995. "I just want peace. I just want justice."
Odom was driving through an eastern San Diego neighborhood near Wideman Memorial Park about 10:40 p.m. when a car carrying three or four men pulled up alongside her at 65th and Akins streets, according to police. One of the occupants of the compact sedan opened fire, killing Odom with three bullets to the head and neck.
The victim's boyfriend and 10-month-old daughter, Aaliyah, survived the attack.
The couple had seen the sedan that the shooter was in a few minutes earlier at a gas station at 69th Street and Imperial Avenue, and Odom's fiancé recognized one of the men from school, Jimenez said. Though no words were exchanged, Odom had gotten a bad feeling from the encounter and left without fueling up her car, her family told reporters.
Jimenez said she believed the assailant may have been trying to target her daughter's boyfriend over some past dispute, or perhaps was a gang member out to commit a random killing to gain underworld status.
The mother said the victim had no gang ties, was an "A" student and ROTC member, and planned to seek a career as a probation officer.
Detectives identified several "persons of interest" in the slaying years ago but have not found the person they believe to be the murderer, homicide Sgt. Manny Del Toro said. Investigators remain unsure if the shooting was gang-related, according to the sergeant.
James Odom said dealing with his daughter's violent early death "gets harder every day."
"Every day is like the first day," he told news crews during a late-morning news conference in front of downtown San Diego police headquarters.
The victim's nearly 21-year-old daughter, holding a sign bearing a large photograph of her mother, said she and her family "just want the community to come forward" with any information that could lead to the murderer.
"Let's spread the word and stop the violence," she said.
Anyone who might be able to help solve the case was asked to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477, or email the agency at sdcrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.