NEWS CENTER Maine is dedicating a week of coverage to Portland's unsolved homicide victims. In the last ten years, nearly half of homicides in the city have gone unsolved. That's a lower clearance rate than the state and country.
PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) – Kelley Turner remembers the moment she found out her brother was dead. “I got up early in the morning to go to work and I looked on my Facebook, and I saw RIP David. On his Facebook.”
That’s how she learned her brother was murdered – on social media.
Turner says her brother, David Anderson, was funny, loving, and caring. “He would give you the shirt off his back,” she said.
She had only met her half-brother one year prior. “He was finally in a place that I could actually meet him,” she explained.
David struggled with drugs. “Heroin, cocaine, ecstasy,” Kelley remembers. “He tried everything.”
After years of talking over the phone, Kelley finally met her brother. They quickly got to know one another – only to have the growing relationship ripped away.
David was killed at an apartment on Gilman Street. He had been staying there with his girlfriend. They struggled to find a steady place, and had recently lost an apartment because of their addiction.
Police say someone approached the apartment that night. David went to answer the door. Before he could turn the knob, someone opened fire.
“The difficulty in this particular case is that no one in the apartment saw the shooter,” said Assistant Portland Police Chief Vern Malloch.
Police reached out to the public for help – posting a picture of surveillance footage on the department’s Facebook page.
David’s case is one of 11 unsolved homicides in Portland in the last decade.
Kelley feels like her brother’s case is not a priority because he was a drug addict. “I feel like a lot of people who live that lifestyle get put on the back burner,” she told NEWS CENTER Maine. “If he was rich or lived a better life, maybe he would be a priority.”
Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch insists: a person’s lifestyle doesn’t affect the way the department investigates. “Whether or not someone is homeless, whether or not they are a drug addict, whether or not they are anything doesn’t matter to us,” he said. “We are going to investigate the crime because we feel like it’s important to get the perpetrators of the street.”
NEWS CENTER Maine spent 6 months collecting and analyzing data on the city of Portland’s homicides from 2007 to 2017.
In that time, nearly half of cases went unsolved.
Malloch says drug-related cases are tougher to close. “I don’t know if that’s because people are less willing to come forward and cooperate, but certainly many of the unsolved cases involve drugs,” he said.
Our investigation shows that in a 10-year period, about 11 percent of Portland’s homicide cases are drug-related - including David Anderson’s death.
“I kept begging him and begging him to get out of that [lifestyle] because [losing him] was one of my biggest fears,” Kelley said.
The surveillance pictures didn’t yield many results for detectives, but the assistant chief says the case is active. “I will say that that investigation is currently still active and being worked,” Malloch said.
Still – Kelley is disappointed in the limited information she’s received from the department. She feels like communication has been lacking.
She wants an answer to the question that keeps her up at night: who killed her brother?
She’s convinced that someone knows something they’re not saying – and says she won’t rest until she knows what happened. “I hope he’s at peace, because I know I’m not,” she said. “And I won’t be until we get justice.”
Police say any details from the public can help them solve murder cases. Do you know anything? If so, call (207) 874-8533 or submit an anonymous tip here.