INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — When the phone rang on my desk last week, the voice at the other end of the line was familiar.
“Russ, I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Dora Sheets.”
Of course I remembered.
It was on a frosty Sunday morning in the fall of 2001, November 4 to be exact, that I stood on the sidewalk outside of a house in the 3100 block of North Keystone Avenue.
Inside, Sheets’ brother, John Smith, was found shot to death on his couch, and IMPD Homicide Detective Marcus Kennedy told me he suspected Smith knew his killer.
All these years later, Sheets thinks so too.
“It looked like he had let somebody in, or the door was already open,” she recalled. “John was the type of guy that was friendly to everybody, so he pretty could have much let them in not knowing what they was coming after.”
Smith was a lifelong resident of that stretch of Indianapolis’ eastside, so Sheets said everyone knew her brother, and he knew everything that was going on in the area.
“There was some murder that happened, and he knew about it,” she said.
For years, Detective Kennedy has had his suspicions that Smith’s murder was carried out by a notorious crime family that permeated the community where his victim lived.
Long prison sentences broke up the family business, but some of its members are still around.
Sheets called me because she recently met a man who had a name to share.
“I asked him and he said, ‘Well, I just really found out when I was in prison,’” she said, repeating the conversation, “because he said the same person that shot him is the same person that killed my brother.”
Detective Kennedy — who is just a few months shy of retirement — and a cold case detective have indicated they will be in touch with Sheets this week to follow up on her tip to perhaps solve the killing of a brother to whom family was everything.
“He was working and taking care of his family and would go out and have a good time and have barbeques at his home,” remembered Sheets. “I hope that they find his killer and that he can rest in peace.”
If you know anything about the murder of John Smith inside his home on North Keystone Avenue in late 2001, call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.
Your information can be worth a $1,000 reward.