Family, police asking for help in case
In his last hours, Barry “Ron” Terron Wilkerson joyfully played with his 2-year-old daughter in the home of his mother.
It was Thanksgiving night. With a need for his daughter, he set out on a walk to a neighborhood store.
At 9:22, while en route, he hung up a cell phone call with his mother, Benita Cofield. According to the autopsy report, a gunshot was heard by a police officer on patrol at 9:35. At 9:41, his sister, LaVonda Williams, tried to call him but got no answer.
At 9:51, first responders got a call of a man lying face down in the driveway of a church on Miriam Street.
It was Wilkerson, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Medical examiners said he was shot at close range in the back.
More than three months later, Henderson police are following leads and the family is asking the public for assistance.
“He was not shot execution style,” Williams said. “His last known whereabouts were 9:22 when he spoke to his mom. Somebody out there knows something. Don’t be scared. Just tell what you know.
“People in this society are scaring people so bad, that they’re scared to speak out. But they’ve got to look at it like, what if it was your family? I don’t care who it is. If I see somebody else hurt somebody, I’m going to tell because I don’t care. Right is right and wrong is wrong.”
Cofield said she and Wilkerson had been to a several places during the holiday, including her brother’s house, the house of a friend’s mother, and another relative. She realized she left her phone along the way, and was going to retrieve it.
“His little girl had came, and he hadn’t seen her in about four months,” Cofield said. “He was playing and having a good time with her. I looked back, and they were just grinning at each other, and he was making her laugh.”
According to the autopsy report, there was no sign of a struggle.
“He hung up the phone at 9:22, and I called him at 9:41 and he didn’t pick up,” Williams said. “That’s why, I don’t know why, I think he got shot at 9:35. That’s what I am going to always believe.”
She referenced the 9:35 time in the medical examiner’s report. Williams said the vein hit bleeds out quickly, and Wilkerson likely had less than a minute to live after being hit.
“From the way it hit him and came out, and he ran those 15 to 20 yards, he didn’t have but a minute,” Williams said. “So when I called him at 9:40, he was already dead.”
Williams said, in her estimation, Wilkerson talked to his assailant and wasn’t running when shot.
“He leaves out, and walks to the store, that walk distance to where he was at is probably about five minutes give or take,” Williams said. “That would put him around 9:30. I’m pretty sure he talked to the person, because they were close on him. You can’t be running from somebody and they shoot you 10 centimeters.
“That means I was standing and talking to you, I didn’t want to hear what you had to say, I turned around and when I turned around to walk off, that’s when you shot me.”
His sister and mother, in an interview with police and The Dispatch, said Wilkerson didn’t have enemies.
“That’s the thing. He was always a good person,” Cofield said. “He would give you before he would take, because he wouldn’t take from you. He took something one time when he was small, and that broke him up. He doesn’t take nothing.
“We don’t understand.”
And the family is hopeful for closure, first by knowing who took his life, and then with justice being served.
“We want to find the killer or killers that were involved,” Cofield said. “The way I looked at it, when he got killed, maybe two weeks after, people were constantly getting killed. And I was like, why is all of this stuff going on now? We’ve been at this residence for three years. We didn’t never have no trouble. All this stuff is coming out, and we want some peace and quiet. It’s crazy.”
Cofield is also grieving for a granddaughter who lost her father.
“He loved her,” she said. “That was his little heart. From day one, he took care of her until the mother and her left. They went to Pennsylvania. But he did get a chance to see her in August. That was the last time he had spent time with her. That was his heart.”
Lt. Alan Hedgepeth said police are taking tips. Crime Stoppers is also taking tips, with a reward of up to $2,000 possible.
Tips for police can be made by calling (252) 438-4141 or (252) 431-6063. Tips to Crime Stoppers can be made by calling (252) 492-1925, or by going online at hvcrimestoppers.com.
Hedgepeth said the criminal investigation team has been working with the State Bureau of Investigation on the case.
“They’re still following up leads,” Hedgepeth said. “They’ve submitted evidence to the SBI lab, and we’re following it up.”
Cofield and Williams are anxious and hopeful tips come in, and the guilty are caught and punished. They’re confident someone knows something about the case not yet revealed to police.
“The way that he got shot, from the back, that’s a big-time thing for me,” Cofield said. “I do want everything that they’re going to give them plus more if that’s possible.”
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.