On Sept. 29, Johnnie Mae Mims was called to a crime scene, where she found her nephew dead. Today she has as many unanswered questions as she did when she first saw the police tape.
“Sometimes these things take a while to shake out,” North Augusta Public Safety Lt. Tim Thornton said of the unsolved homicide of Travis Smith, 28.
Police said Smith and a woman were standing outside a Ridgeview Manor apartment building on Bradleyville Road when he was fatally shot around 2:45 a.m.
Police believe two men in hoodies fired the shot in Smith’s direction as he and the woman tried to run inside.
All the family knows is that Smith had been visiting a friend at the complex when he said, “I’ll be right back,” but never returned.
“I don’t know why,” sister Tyesha Simmons said. “They don’t have a motive or suspect. There’s nothing. No one can tell me anything.”
Police offered a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest, but no one has come forward.
“We believe there is more to the story than what was told so far,” Thornton said of the city’s only homicide of the year. “We believe more information is out there, but witnesses are reluctant to come forward.”
Family remember Smith as a quiet man who generally kept to himself. For the past year he had taken care of his elderly grandmother at his family home just a few streets down from Ridgeview Manor.
They suspect he might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Police said the woman he was with, who was originally referred to as a girlfriend, remains a person of interest because of her involvement in the case and unanswered questions.
Simmons said she’s unaware of any women in Smith’s life other than his 9-year-old daughter.
“(His daughter) is having a hard time,” Simmons said. “He was coming back into her life, and she was getting really attached. She keeps asking why (he died).”
Family members hope someone will come forward with information to answer the question on all their minds.
“I’m trying to plead with the people in those apartments for any information, no matter how insignificant you think it might be,” Simmons said.
In the meantime, she wears a purple ribbon with a gold “T” on her shirt in honor of her brother.
Mims said her greatest fear is that people will start to forget and that an answer will never come.