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Community urged to speak up about unsolved murders

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-07 19:24:53-04

There are pockets in cities including Omaha, where murder is fairly common, but arrests are not.

For some, it's the fear of coming forward that allows these people to literally get away with murder.

When no one speaks up, Omaha Police can't do their jobs and those families continue to live without closure.

Jameila Hesseltine and her boyfriend were murdered in their own home in 2011. Nearly a decade later, Buffy Bush has no idea who killed her sister. 

"I'm still in a community where her killer is free without justice," Buffy Bush said.

Since her sister's death, Bush has become an advocate for families who have lost loved ones and are still waiting for justice.

"How do you sleep at night knowing the person you are laying next to murdered a mother while her children were in the next room?" Bush said. 

Bush says the problem lies within the community. It goes back to the old saying, snitches get stitches.

"People feel like, I can be dead as well if I say something," Bush said. "It's not about getting stitches anymore, people are being put in the ground six feet under."

It's witness accounts to murders like the one at 34th and Parker last year that often make or break the investigation.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told the Washington Post: "It's one of the best indicators of how well a police department and a community work together.

"If a police department can't solve the greatest crime, the most egregious crime affecting society, what faith would you have in that police department?" Schmaderer said.

Some in North Omaha say there's a lack of trust between the community and OPD.

"That's why a lot of people don't tell: They don't feel protected, not in their circumstances, not in their own state."

That mindset keeps Bush and many other families in pain.

"They can't pull one out of the air, it does take us as a community to give them what they need to make a conviction," Bush said.

Some say they would be more comfortable coming forward if they felt their tip would absolutely be anonymous. They also say they would like to build a better relationship between the North Omaha community and police.

If you have information about a crime, contact OPD at 402-444-5600. Or submit a tip to Omaha Crimestoppers at 402-444-7867 (STOP).