Unknown Roger Cheatham Killer- Alabama- 2016 Apr 15, 2017 2:00:57 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Apr 15, 2017 2:00:57 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: wiat.com)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It was 10 p.m. on a hot summer night. As three children slept in a back bedroom of a North Birmingham apartment, three men with covered faces walked through the unlocked front door.
Roger Cheatham, 31, sat on a couch inside his apartment with a neighbor on August 16, 2016. Two of the sleeping children belonged to Cheatham, the oldest was his fiance's son.
The men who entered the apartment said they were looking for something and a struggle began. It ended with Cheatham shot in the head and the neighbor shot in the shoulder. The neighbor survived, but Cheatham died at UAB Hospital the following day.
"They are terrified," said Cheatham's sister Jessica Starks about his children. Rodarius, 8, and Brielle, 4, are now living with their grandmother Angela Cheatham, but according to Starks, they are struggling.
"Rodarius has bad dreams, he thinks somebody is after him," said Starks. "He carries play guns and we ask him why and he says he wants to protect his family."
The fear, anxiety and sadness Cheatham's children face is perhaps the most heartbreaking fallout from silence. People in the community know who killed Cheatham and why, but they're not talking to police.
Cheatham's family said they don't know why someone would kill him. He worked at a car wash and had dated the same woman for over eight years. Cheatham graduated from Carver High School and lived his life in North Birmingham.
Birmingham homicide detective Joylyn Craig said it's unclear what the intruders were after or even if Cheatham was the intended target. One solid piece of information came from people outside the apartment who witnessed the three men leaving in a purple Nissan.
"Somebody knows who was in that car," said Craig. "It's not like there are a thousand purple Altimas out there," she added.
Despite the specific vehicle description, detectives have little else to go on. Detective Craig said she understands why people who know something clam up, fearing retaliation from the assailants, they don't want to risk getting involved.
"If you have to live in the communities with these same people, who you have fear that they're going to get out of jail, they're going to make that bond and then they're going to find out who the witnesses are, that's something that may keep you from sleeping at night," said Craig.
But without the help from the community in cases like Cheatham's murder, it's difficult for detectives to make an arrest. Craig tries to build trust with sources and talk to people in the community with respect, but still the "no snitching" culture can be tough to break through. Craig said when reluctant informants finally decide to talk to police, she's seen their relief first hand. Knowing information about a murder can be a heavy burden.
"You can see, they just take that deep breath and it's like that weight was lifted," she said.
While it's frustrating for law enforcement, the silence has been heart wrenching for Cheatham's family.
"He was a loving man, he cared about his family," Starks said about Cheatham.
"It's not snitching, it's helping," she added, hopeful someone will finally do the right thing and give police information they need to make an arrest.
Starks and Cheatham's mother believe it's only a matter of time for the three men who shot their loved one, then sped away, leaving his children without a father.
"The streets talk," Starks said.
If you have any information in the murder of Roger Cheatham, call Birmingham Homicide at (205) 254-1771.
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