Local mom pleads for answers in son's Halloween cold case murder
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Investigators say they are close to solving a Halloween cold case murder. Friday marks 11 years since someone killed 23-year-old Dallas Nelson after he gave a friend a ride home.
It's a pain that never dulls for Janice Porter.
"People will say, 'Well it's been 11 years, 10 years. You should be over that.' And I'm like, it's still yesterday to me," she said.
It's been over a decade since she's seen her son Dallas' smile.
"All of his pictures, you see he's got that smile," said Porter, picking up one of the many framed photos of her son on display inside her home.
"He's so handsome," she beamed.
On October 31st, 2003, the 23-year-old got off work at his job at the Rib 'n Loin around 4:30 in the afternoon. He gave a co-worker a ride home.
"My son had took this boy home in Alton Park every single day," Porter remembered.
That's where police found Nelson's car the next morning, abandoned on Cain Avenue's dead end. Bullets pierced the passenger side of his vehicle. Someone dragged his body to a nearby embankment.
Police believe the killer's motive was robbery. They later learned people heard the shots that night, but no one ever called 911.
"I felt like a failure because I didn't solve the case," said Porter.
"This is one of the ones on that priority list," said Chattanooga Police Sgt. Bill Phillips. The detective said he has a couple people in mind, but just needs a few more details.
"Unfortunately, we've not gotten to that threshold yet where we feel an arrest could be made," Phillips said.
"It's our responsibility to resolve who has taken their life," said Mike Mathis, a retired CPD homicide detective who is now the lead investigator in District Attorney Neal Pinkston's new cold case unit.
Old files are getting a fresh set of eyes.
"If it's not illegal, then there's nothing we won't do to solve a case," Mathis said.
Someone out there knows what happened on that dead-end street on Halloween night.
"We're in the right direction, and we're not too far away from being able to solve this case," said Phillips.
And that's all Dallas' mom wants. Porter said she still can't bury the pain of knowing her son's murder is unsolved, more than a decade later.
"I know that he would fight for me," she said. "I've carried around a lot of guilt by it not being solved."
"I mean, even though it's not me who can solve it, I've felt guilt."
According to police, what seems to be the smallest detail could actually be a huge break in the case.
Anyone with information about Dallas' case or any other unsolved murder in Hamilton County can phone in an anonymous tip to the cold case hotline at (423) 209-7470 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.