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Patricia Cade knows the end of her son’s story: John Thomas Cade Jr. was shot and killed on Dec. 27, 1994. The rest, she’s trying to figure out.

Photographs by Darrow Montgomery

1.

Mercer “Puncho” Boatwright stumbles off his stoop and into the mud-soaked grass. He comes bearing a bouquet of “How you been”s and “Haven’t seen you”s, a brown-bagged half-drunken bottle of beer, an unlit cigarette between his chapped lips, and a pair of scarred, cold hands for some unwanted backslaps. It’s 8:30 p.m., but it might as well be last call on his block, the 300 block of Livingston Terrace SE.

The neighborhood’s identical red-brick apartments, which ring a hilltop in a stubby crown, have gone dark. Wedged behind the auto dealers and junk-food shacks along South Capitol Street and Southern Avenue, the environs look like a place to let your mind run loose—Boatwright’s speciality.

Everyone’s having a good time. Three, four, five guys, and even a few ladies, have cozied among the concrete steps, roasting ciggies, tossing an old football, and putting on a lot of play fighting. They’re all good for a few laughs, and everything seems peaceful.

Boatwright watches a huge black SUV peel out a few feet away. Someone inside that tank must be looking for trouble, but it screeches off. Back to this happy business. With September frosting what might be the last Indian-summer night, Boatwright reclines against the chain-link fence bordering the stoop and takes a carefree swig.

There’s nothing carefree about the woman approaching him: Patricia Cade—his sister-in-law. Cade knows that this skinny 38-year-old dude, with a spider web of veins protruding from his calves, a Rudolph nose, and a knit cap permanently wedded to his head, is not just any annoying drunk. He could be the key to solving her son’s murder.

Cade shoves her hands in her jacket pocket and skirts a few steps away. Despite Boatwright’s evident affection, she says barely two words to him. And those words go down small and slow and demanding. They say, “Don’t even think about it.” She is a tough, compact woman, who seems to have gotten fragile over her 45 years. Still, she can manage a determined look. Her brown eyes, set against a spray of freckles, have a way of cutting off the bullshit slung in her direction.

Cade has not stopped by Boatwright’s little kingdom to get razzed up or doted on. One door down from this fun bunch is the place where her only son, John Thomas Cade Jr., was killed, nearly six years ago. He was 20, and his death came two days after Christmas. So far the case remains open: unsolved and active. She still shows up in the neighborhood in an attempt to get information, gain sources, solve her son’s damn case. Tonight it’s detective duty, not family-reunion time. She doesn’t need this hassle.

It seems odd that Boatwright would be here, so close to the spot where Junior was killed. Eerie, even. But this fact doesn’t mess up Cade. She stays on point. Boatwright was also here the night of the murder, saw the aftermath—but not the murder. Held Junior in his arms and watched him take his last breath. But didn’t see nothing. Claims to know nothing, too.

Still, Boatwright is willing to rap and reminisce about that night. With a few beers washing his stomach, it doesn’t take long. “He was more than my nephew,” he says—they were like brothers. Cade has heard this before; I have, too, only in other parts of the city, from other relatives, about other murder victims.

But tonight, Boatwright offers up a little something new. He introduces two buddies—”Pete” and “Jack,” who ask that their real names not be used. They come down from their crowd at the top of the hill. Pete has just smoked up, and Jack just looks bored. The two say they were eyewitnesses to the 6-year-old shooting. The one that occurred only 20 paces away from where they’re standing now. Only they don’t look as if they’re ready to follow those steps down memory lane.

Pete tells Cade only: “A car just pulled up. It happened fast.” Not much else to tell.

Cade has met Jack before, once, when Junior was alive. He begs off her questions and returns to the hilltop. Cade doesn’t say much, doesn’t egg them on for more details. Again, she’s heard this stuff before.

Cade likes to go to her son’s murder scene. She goes a lot. Sometimes after work. Sometimes on her way home from the nearby grocery store. Usually, she visits twice a day, but sometimes more. It just depends. There are all kinds of other places she associates with her son—old apartments, schools, basketball courts—but she gravitates most often to the spot where he gasped his last breath: in front of the three-story apartment building at 300 Livingston Terrace SE.

Sometimes Cade will find any excuse to lengthen her stay on Livingston Terrace, whether it be making small talk with bored residents or getting in a few rounds of double Dutch with some preteen girls. Sometimes she stands where her son was killed, imagines him fleeing the bullets. As she plays this scene back in her mind, she is careful to place the eyewitnesses. There are always a lot of eyewitnesses.

Sometimes she just drives by, checks out the spot from the corner of her eye, and moves on. Other times, she jumps out and orbits around the site on foot. Once I watch her pass out fliers offering reward money along one of her outer routes. Some people laugh. Others just say, “That was a long time ago.”

The place where Junior was killed is 14 stairs and 17 paces up from the street, just to the right of the entrance to No. 300. Near the center of the well-trod front yard, the spot is muddy. It’s studded with white rocks, cigarette butts, and shards of glass. On the apartment’s wall facing the spot there used to be a graffiti tribute. Six years later, you can’t make out any of the words once tattooed with white spray paint. Small white drips and cloud shapes remain. If you look closely, you can make out part of an “I.”

It’s hardly an impressive site. Unless you are Patricia Cade.

The moment Cade’s son died, everything changed. She had already lost one child— Love, an infant—to a fire, 23 years before. But back then, she was 16 and in high school, and she hid her grief. This time, she let go. There were a suicide attempt (pills, any pills, a mouthful of pills), visits to two area mental hospitals, a spell of many months numbly staring out her apartment window, on-again, off-again therapy (solo and group), candlelight prayers, and still a lot of unanswered questions: Who killed my son? Why did my son die? Who has this information?

But for all Cade’s efforts, her son’s death still remains very much a mystery. What was once a fresh tragedy that brought nearly a hundred mourners to his funeral now hardly evokes a whisper in the neighborhood. People have just forgotten. She goes to 300 Livingston Terrace more than anything to make people remember her son.

Deep down, Cade thinks some members of her family know who killed her son, that they have the answers to all her questions. They just aren’t talking. They would just as soon let it be. Nothing they could say could bring him back, but she still wants to dig a little more. That’s her job now—homicide detective.

With Pete and Jack lost to the party, Cade grabs Boatwright. “Come on, let’s go for a walk,” she says. He knows where she wants to go. It’s a trip he doesn’t want to make. But she pulls and pulls. Finally, the brother-in-law takes a swig, regains his good spirits, and indulges his demanding sister-in-law.

I follow them the few steps over to the muddy spot. Cade and Boatwright stand over the patch and just look down. They don’t know what to do next. Junior isn’t lying there bleeding. He can’t be saved. And he may never be redeemed—certainly not tonight. After a few long silences, Boatwright snaps and lays into Cade.

“You don’t need to see this shit,” he screams. But Cade does.

2. During one of my first interviews with Patricia Cade, on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, it becomes clear that she lives surrounded by her son. Every item in her apartment radiates a story. She shares the place with two brothers she saved from certain homelessness: Larry, a mentally retarded man whose Barry Farms house became infested with crackheads, and David, a recently paroled convict. But Junior is there, too.

In Cade’s eyes, her house has become a museum of Junior; she is its chief curator. There is the broken bust of Martin Luther King Jr. (which her son damaged). There is the empty refrigerator (Junior always took care of the grocery shopping). There are his go-go tapes (Stasia, his sister, used to get so mad at him when he cranked up his music).

Cade follows her own rhythm. I don’t bother with my prepared questions. Instead, I choose to just follow her stories from strand to strand.

The way we grapple with death, the way we deal with this thing, this endgame of grief and gravestones—we tell stories. We make believe that by telling stories, remembering the lost and the loved, we bring them back. Old tales are swapped among bar stools, at bar mitzvahs, over barbecues. And it generally works, as a way of marking time, passing on legacies, keeping some faith that our own lives will not be forgotten.

With a murder victim, detectives must cultivate stories to piece together both a life and a death. The deceased becomes a collage of pictures, writings, official documents—and stories. Some are flat-out funny. Some are Post-it-sized anecdotes, small takes really. Some are left unfinished. Some are afraid to be told.

Somewhere within the stories about Junior, Cade hopes to excavate a definitive truth—about who her son was and what happened to him. She knows how the episode ends: John Thomas Cade Jr. died on that hill, that spot, on Dec. 27, 1994. It was night. It was cold. For now, she sticks with the stories she knows.

There is this song that stays on her turntable, “The Beginning of My End,” by the Unifics, a ’70s-era soul group. The lyrics are about a husband losing his wife to a car accident and the ensuing funeral. Cade cranks up this tune and sings along. She plays the song over and over. After a few listens, she starts changing the words to fit the circumstances of her own lost children: “The policeman told me/And he told me that my light had died.”

“That’s the stereo system I purchased for $300,” Cade says, pointing to the black RCA sound system. “I couldn’t work Junior’s stereo. He would have said, ‘Dumb, man. Dumb.’” Taking a break after the song’s string-embellished finale, she sits on the couch in her living room and sips some cheap pink wine over ice. She hasn’t left her apartment all day. Her hair resembles a busy nest of sprouts. Her focus is on the hallway.

Cade walks over to the hallway leading to the front door. It reminds her of something, a story about Junior. One October night, two months before his death, he came home and collapsed to the floor. He lay there motionless in a heap. Cade was worried.

“‘Mom, I want to die,’” Cade remembers Junior saying.

“‘Junior, why you say that?’” she asked.

“‘I’m tired of all the killing. I’m tired of people not wanting to like each other, fighting,’” he said.

“‘What’s the matter?’” she asked. “‘Is anybody after you? Have you done anything to anybody?’”

“‘Nope.’”

“I got down on the floor and I picked his head up like this,” Cade says, miming her motions of six years ago. She pretends to look down at him, stroking his imaginary chin. “‘Are you all right, Junior?’”

“‘Yeah, Mom,’” Junior said. “‘I’m OK.’”

3. Junior would leave notes for his mother in the home they shared. Lots of notes.

Mommy,

What’s up? Nothing I guess because you was not home to receive my phone call Monday night. So if you could call me tonight before 8 o’clock please. So we can talk about my three pairs of tennis shoes and my new clothes. I know you feel that’s a joke so anyway call and write.

Love You Sike! Sike! I do lady.

Junior wrote this note, a sarcastic Christmas list, about a week before his death. He scratched it onto notebook paper in pencil, mixing cursive and print. He drew a heart around the “Love You.” He left the note on the kitchen counter. It would be his last. Now it resides in a navy-blue scrapbook in Cade’s living room.

4. After six years, Cee-Cee, who prefers for me to use her nickname, has just one story to tell about her cousin Junior. She lived with the Cade family from 1988 through 1990 in Suitland, Md. A sturdy, cautious woman, she remembers just bits of that time. Mostly, she remembers how Junior, then just a kid himself, took care of little kids. He was a tickler and a nudger to his baby cousins. He would teach them how to do things like tie shoes and zip up coats.

Cee-Cee says she’s guarding and protecting one memory of Junior—her last: It was two, maybe three days before Christmas in 1994. They took a trip to the Landover Mall for some gift shopping. Junior was carefree. “My daughter was 6 months old. He held her and carried her in the mall,” Cee-Cee recalls. “He bought some ice cream, and he tried to feed her some ice cream.”

Cee-Cee told Junior that babies can’t eat ice cream. But soon, he was off running the length of Landover Mall, Cee-Cee’s daughter cradled in one arm, an ice cream cone dripping from the other as if he were going to share it with the child. Junior was just playing. He could be fun like that. Joke with everybody, set the family at ease. After Junior died, Cee-Cee says, she would walk up to people and blurt his name. Cases of mistaken identity.

For a long time, family members didn’t talk about Junior. Junior used to be the one who brought the family together, what Cee-Cee calls “the pocket of fun.” Now the Cades all seem to have gone their separate ways.

This past September, Cee-Cee was riding the Metro’s Blue Line to work. Before her Farragut West stop, she bumped into a distant cousin, Butchie. They started discussing the possibility of a family reunion. “Well, that sounds good,” Butchie said.

Months later, Cee-Cee sees little prospect for a family get-together. She hasn’t called Butchie yet. “I have been holding on to the number,” she says. “I don’t know what for.”

5. It’s midday, and I’m at work when Patricia Cade calls. She wants me to come to her house. She left her job at the Pentagon early. Just told her boss she didn’t feel well and then left. She declined to tell anyone the real reason for her abrupt departure. It’s Junior’s birthday, Sept. 11. I forgot.

When I arrive at Cade’s Southeast apartment, a ground-floor two-bedroom in a gated complex, she has already cut up several chickens, placed them in a crock pot with a red-wine sauce. On her way home, she stopped at the Safeway and picked up the ingredients for a special dinner. She had never bothered eating much on Junior’s birthday during the previous five years, but this time she figured it would be OK.

Cade sits outside at a table smoking a Kool, taking in the mild summer dusk. Junior would be 27 today, she says. If he were alive, she says, “he would invite the whole neighborhood full of boys.”

But there is no neighborhood full of boys, no Junior. We just look at old birthday cards, any cards really. Her son liked the flowery, I-love-you kind of cards. She imagines one of the cards being the card that she gives him today. She calls her daughter repeatedly. She reminds her of this story and that story: the time the two siblings wouldn’t sit still for an Easter photo, and how Junior wouldn’t keep his tie on. After a while, Stasia’s line goes busy, and Cade stops calling.

No one from the family bothers to call. Her brother David has forgotten about Junior’s birthday, too. The chicken simmers unattended in the crock pot. Cade’s eyes follow deep into her scrapbooks. She comes to an entry she wrote after her son died: “Trials and tribulations will come and go,” she reads. “Many times you wonder what if and if, never finding the answers. Just deal with it. That’s the way.”

By 10 p.m., Cade has forgotten all about eating her son’s special birthday dinner. “I’m cookin’ for nobody, really,” she says. “I’m just cookin’.”

Cade calls me the next morning. She declares that she’s not going to work, that she’s just going to sleep the day away. She’s depressed about one thing, a simple fact she let slip from her mind. Junior would not have been 27 yesterday, as she said. He would have been 26.

6. In blunt bold type, a Dec. 24, 1971, Washington Post headline told the tragedy of the Cades: “Fire Kills 3 In Ill-Starred NE Family.” Staff writer Ron Shaffer distilled the arc of the Cade family’s fate in the first graph: “A grandmother who has suffered through the deaths of a husband, two daughters and a son watched hysterically yesterday while a fire raged through her brick home and killed three grandchildren who were trapped in a second-floor bedroom.”

Within the three years leading up to the fire, Edna Mae Cade, Junior’s future grandmother, had buried three of her 15 children. Daughters Eleanor and Linda lost their lives to murderous boyfriends: Eleanor was shot to death as she slept in her bed; Linda was stabbed twice, her newborn baby lying untouched by her side on a boyfriend’s kitchen floor. Edna Mae’s son, Earl, was killed in a car accident. All were 17 years old when they died.

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“A lot of them was just scared to turn 17,” says sibling Yvonne “Pee-Wee” Callaway. “Everybody thought something was going to happen to them. I told them, ‘Don’t be scared.’ I guess it was just one of those things—bad 17. They thought they was going to die.”

In between those deaths, in 1969, their father died of a heart attack.

This time, shortly after noon, a fire broke out in a first-floor bedroom in Edna Mae Cade’s yellow-brick, two-story row house, located at 622 7th Street NE. Sparks flew from a heat vent. Within minutes, heat and smoke and flame had engulfed each of the tiny rooms. Six children—including Puncho Boatwright—as well as Edna Mae Cade escaped unharmed.

But three babies were found dead, lying on the floors of three separate rooms. The dead children were identified as Willie James Cade, 17 months old, Victoria Ann Riley, 8 months, and Love Patricia Cade, 16 months. That last baby was Patricia Cade’s first with her husband, John Cade.

At the time, Edna Mae Cade was taking care of Love while her daughter-in-law attended class at Margaret Washington High School. Patricia Cade was at school when she heard the news that her baby had died.

The Afro-American called the Cade deaths a “Test of Faith.” Two decades later, another son and sibling, Jimmie Cade, would die in his sleep of a possible overdose. And then Junior.

7. Hundreds of miles from 300 Livingston Terrace, and long before Junior was murdered, Dr. Carl C. Bell, a well-known psychiatrist, examined 536 kids growing up on the south side of Chicago. He queried the youngsters about their exposure to violence: Have you ever seen anybody shot? Have you ever seen anybody stabbed? It was simple stuff. But when he conducted these interviews, in the early ’80s, the research was considered groundbreaking.

Bell knew to ask the questions because some of these kids had been brought to him for professional help earlier. He knew that violence jeopardized their mental well-being. Still, the answers he heard surprised him. Roughly 25 percent of the children he surveyed had witnessed at least one brutal act.

“It wasn’t on anybody’s radar screen,” Bell says. “People used to ask me, ‘Where do you get this stuff from?’” Some of his colleagues even accused him of making up his research. “No one believed it. No one had considered it. It was new.” Now, this same sort of research, he likes to say, has become “a cottage industry.”

Through follow-up studies, Bell noticed patterns of grieving and the impact of witnessing or experiencing the sudden death of a loved one. He says he realized that these kids were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—what Vietnam veterans had gone through when they returned home. Bell’s theory would shatter the accepted wisdom about grieving patterns.

PTSD added another layer to the grieving process. Previously, grief was thought of as an isolated experience that lasted no longer than two years. Any extension might be considered abnormal—or even mentally damaging. But, as psychologists discovered, survivors of homicide victims could suffer not only a sense of loss, but also PTSD symptoms: flashbacks, memory loss, and anxiety attacks, among others. These were symptoms of serious trauma.

Although the majority of relatives of homicide victims are not witnesses to the murders, they take whatever information they have and imagine what it was like for their loved ones, says Dr. Marcella Marcey, a psychologist who specializes in treating families that have survived traumatic events: “Those images become flashbacks.” The constant rewinding and playing back of the death can lengthen the grieving process for many years.

And the process of grieving no longer need fit the obvious, movie-of-the-week description. In urban areas, death can set off different chains of events depending on the social fabric of the community. Without a strong support network, a death can immobilize a neighborhood.

For friends and loved ones who suffer a loss firsthand, Bell says, two significant challenges arise: the struggle to deal with the loss itself and the trauma associated with how the loss occurred. In many ways, a sudden, violent death prevents the grieving process from ever starting. Even if you didn’t witness the actual death, The replays in your head are often so painful that they can cause emotional paralysis.

“You get flooded with these traumas,” Bell says. “That stops the grieving process dead in its tracks.”

In effect, defeating the trauma, and all the anger and loss and sorrow that go with it, takes many years. Every traumatic death, psychologists have noted, affects a network of roughly 10 grieving loved ones. All are faced with serious mental and emotional challenges.

In the decade ending in 1999, there were 3,772 homicides in the District, some 1,700 of which remain unsolved. In the neighborhoods surrounding 300 Livingston Terrace, there have been roughly 40 fatal shootings and other murders since 1994, according to police records. The families of the victims face flashbacks, depression, and the inability to relate to their old lives.

Since the tragic deaths in the Cade family in the late ’60s and early ’70s, a half-dozen family members have been institutionalized for various lengths of time. At least three have attempted suicide. More have thought of taking their own lives, developed drug habits, or ended up in prison.

8. When Patricia Cade discusses her life, she sounds as if she’s reading from a grim résumé: 1971, lost first-born daughter to a fire; 1978, left abusive, coke-addicted husband; 1994, lost son to murder; 1995, made two visits to two different mental hospitals after trying to kill herself with pills; 2000, shares apartment with two brothers who would surely be homeless if it weren’t for her. She tells me these facts dryly, without embellishment or any hint of self-pity.

And Cade didn’t suffer her losses helplessly. In 1991, she joined the District Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland and earned her emergency medical technician’s license; she still does volunteer clerical work for the fire station even though she’s moved back into the District. After Junior died, she became an auxiliary Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, working nights in the 4th and occasionally 7th District police stations. She crunches numbers, writes reports, does grunt work—the boring stuff that none of the paid staffers want to do.

Sometimes, Cade sleeps with a calculator. Sometimes, she falls asleep with a scrapbook filled with pictures of Junior.

When she isn’t volunteering, Cade is calling on the MPD detective assigned to her son’s case. Or she’s making the rounds, trying to coax information out of relatives and strangers who might know something. At the very least, this quest has made Cade feel alone, separated from her own family, who’d like to move on.

“I think she’s upset,” says her daughter. “I haven’t figured it out yet. Nobody has. I don’t know. I don’t know who to believe or what

to believe.

“It’s very frustrating. My mother has totally changed. She’s a different person. If this case could just get solved, I don’t know if she would get peace,” continues Stasia Cade.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Patricia Cade sits in her living room in a big, comfy, blue-gray chair with a do-not-disturb expression planted firmly on her face. She’s wearing just a long nightshirt. It must be one of her moods, what she calls her “funks.” When she gets like this, it means she stops eating and forgets things. Like putting on clothes.

Stasia soon arrives. When she does, she hollers jokingly at her mother: “How’s it going in the psych ward?”

9. Once, on our way home one spring day from 300 Livingston Terrace, Patricia Cade pops in a tape. It’s a recording of Junior playing with and teasing his niece Jasma. It was made 10 days before he died and found sometime later. The tape has been inside Cade’s pickup truck’s stereo ever since.

At the beginning, you can hear Junior attempt to cajole Jasma, then 2 years old, into impersonating the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. “Say, ‘Womp womp,’” Junior pleads. Then, in the background, you hear flashes of laughter and cries amid a field of hiss. The tape makes for some sad music. For many minutes, there are no discernible words. Only hiss.

There are several more moments of make-believe. Junior gives Jasma directions with streets called “Hot Dog Road” and “Ketchup Drive.” Then the tape runs out in silence.

10. There are buddies—and then there are brothers. Friends have a way of landing either in an inner circle or on the periphery. The periphery includes people to shoot hoops with and discuss the issues of the day—dudes meant to fill up parties, share a toast and a few boasts. But brothers, on the other hand, whether biological or otherwise, receive a license to call bullshit on you when necessary. They raise your game, make sure you’re following the righteous path. With brothers, you can pull the meanest pranks one minute and talk deep the next.

That was what Junior Cade meant to Puncho Boatwright. Although they were nephew and uncle, separated in age by 12 years, Boatwright says he considered Junior “closer, like a brother.” Boatwright and Junior were very much the family’s jokers, always pulling small pranks and making funny faces.

“I always made him laugh,” Boatwright says. “Had fun and everything. When the father is not there, I tried…You know what I’m saying.”

For roughly a year, Boatwright and Junior lived together. When Junior turned 18, in the fall of 1992, he moved into his grandmother Edna Mae Cade’s two-bedroom apartment, located in the 4500 block of 3rd Street SE, just off Livingston Terrace, to be close to his family. He couldn’t have been closer; he had to share the apartment with 10 other family members. They made do, piling up on sofas, beds, and even in the bathroom. Junior shared a bed with his Uncle Puncho. When they wanted to, they made the perfect jesters at the dinner table.

Boatwright remembers all the shit they shared together. Fighting over food, yes, but they could get along good, too. Like when he watched Junior light up one of his firecracker-packed cigarettes or sprinkled itching powder all over Junior’s bedding. The teenager got in his share of licks as well, Boatwright recalls. Once Junior stuck lit matches between his uncle’s toes while he was passed out from booze.

When they weren’t torturing each other, Boatwright and his nephew would sit around and daydream about getting into the music business, maybe starting a go-go band. Ideas bubbling in their heads, they hatched plans to make a documentary film about their family and how funny they all were. Boatwright describes the film thus: “People do funny things.”

Junior was killed a year after his grandmother died from kidney disease. Boatwright was returning from visiting relatives in Washington, Ga. He unwittingly followed the ambulance up Atlantic Street SE to 300 Livingston Terrace on his way home. Somebody had gotten shot. He rushed over to the scene and saw Junior lying on the ground, blood coming from his mouth.

The day after the funeral, Boatwright says, he tried to kill himself. He went up to 3rd Street, smoked up some crack, said “Fuck it,” and cut his wrists with a razor. He quickly had second thoughts, washed and bandaged his wrists, and eventually went to Greater Southeast Community Hospital. Showing off his scars, jagged black lines over and under his wrists, he says he never told anyone about the incident. Soon came homelessness, joblessness, and a continued restlessness.

I catch up with Boatwright on a weekday afternoon shortly after his run-in with Patricia Cade. He’s still asleep when I buzz his sister’s apartment, where he’s crashing at the moment. After repeated attempts to rouse him, he finally answers the door in sweat pants and an undershirt.

The living room seems to be Boatwright’s. Bundles of clothes lie in piles and spill from jumbo garbage bags along his makeshift bed—a couple of blankets spread across the hardwood floor in front of the television. After watching episodes of Emergency, Adam 12, and Dragnet on the TV Land channel, trying to shake a combination cold and hangover, he puts on his clothes and declares himself ready to talk.

We go outside and sit on a stoop facing South Capitol Street. Boatwright’s speech turns flat. His voice barely edges above a gruff whisper. He says he rarely talks about this stuff—Junior’s death and his own depression. It’s still something he contemplates every day. He says he has this image of the dinner table at happy times—only when he looks around, half the chairs are empty. All those brothers and sisters are gone.

“Everybody sit at the table like we used to with Mom,” Boatwright says. “Every night when I come into the house, I miss my mother, miss my sisters, miss my brothers, miss my nieces, miss my nephews.”

A high school dropout and jobless, Boatwright still struggles to bear the burden of all this misery. He’s dipped into drugs, despair, and anger at different points in his life.

As for figuring out who killed Junior and why, he can’t be bothered. It’s in God’s hands, he says. Though he heard the killers might have come from 2nd Street, “I haven’t heard any names,” he says.

A week later, I run into Boatwright up at the place where Junior died, talking to some pot dealers and clutching a bootleg copy of The Exorcist 2 in his hand. His sister has kicked him out of her apartment. He’s been wandering the neighborhood for three days, hasn’t eaten in two. I buy him a cheeseburger and a fruit punch.

“I feel like crying right now,” Boatwright bellows from the passenger seat of my car. “This is the shit that makes me break down and go through depression. This is my friend’s coat! I only had a fucking shirt on, man!”

He asks to be driven to Jack’s house—the same Jack who was an eyewitness to Junior’s murder.

Boatwright’s hoping to cadge five bucks from Jack. He says he wants to take a cab ride somewhere—he’s just not sure of his destination. We wait for Jack’s white Cadillac to show up. When it does after 20 minutes, Boatwright jumps out of my car and dashes away.

“Fuck ’em,” he says of his sister and the rest of the family.

11. “Jack,” 30, says he used to hang out on Livingston Terrace when he was a crackhead. He met Junior through one of Junior’s cousins, Eddie “Scoonie” McNeely. He was there on that December night, two days after Christmas, walking along the 300 block. He has this to say: “I know what Junior was doing. He was sitting on top of the hill. He was sitting with another guy….I was just standing out there. I see a four-door Marquis or Crown Vic. Tinted windows came down. ‘What’s up?’ [someone from the car asked]. Next thing I know, there were gunshots. Once that happened, I got to running. I was right there on the corner. They probably fired 10 shots. It was two guns being fired. It was 20 to 30 seconds. It was so quick. I was scared for my life. It ain’t like I never seen it before. But it shocked me.

“When I got up there, [Junior] was a mess. He was bleeding everywhere. He was just fighting for his life. At the same time, he was losing control. He got hit in his neck. Another guy was holding him, shaking him. His eyes were wide open. But he was losing—he was fading away….[The next day] his blood was still in the grass.

“I don’t know who was in the car. I don’t know them. I don’t try to get to know everybody.”

12. The buildings along the 300 block of Livingston Terrace are three stories high, red-brick, and identical. The low-income and working-class residents who fill up those buildings prefer not to give addresses, instead referring to their homes as on “the Hill.” If you are of a certain age, you might call it “the Third World,” in reference to a crew that works the area. It can be a placid, unremarkable place. The playgrounds are built from colorful plastics, yet go unused. The apartments come clean and spacious (at $535 plus electric), yet the only luxury they offer is a view into other buildings or the nearby hills in Prince George’s County.

The Hill makes a great place to idle. On a recent bright fall day, four kids sell bags of pot just a few steps from where Junior was killed. Everyone in the neighborhood—from the maintenance men serving as their customers to the old ladies out for a stroll—knows the kids by name. The fact that they’re selling reefer isn’t a big deal. Sniffing the little baggies as if they each contained vintage wine, the dealers don’t have a care in the world.

When asked about the general qualities of the community, the apartment complex’s realty rep replies tersely: “You could call the police department. They could give you information on what the neighborhood is like.”

In other words, if you’re an addict, this might be a good place to visit. That’s what attracted “Pete” to the Hill in the early ’90s. The Cades were still living down the block on 3rd Street. At the time, they were well-known for their large clan and for their grandmother, Edna Mae Cade, who had an open-door policy for friends. After Pete befriended the family, he would occasionally crash at the Cade place.

“There was always enough food,” says Pete. “Everybody was just joking around.” Pete had a good thing going. If he was high on crack, he had a place to stay in the neighborhood—pretty convenient if you have a wife who won’t stand for you coming home strung-out. Even after Edna Mae Cade died and the family moved out of her house, they still stayed in the neighborhood. And so did Pete.

Until the night of Dec. 27, 1994—the night Junior got shot and died right in front of him.

Earlier that day, Pete had given Junior a ride in his gray Dodge Horizon to Patricia Cade’s house. At the time, she was living in Southwest with Junior. He dropped Junior off and then went about his business. Junior then went to his aunt Donna Boatwright’s house for some post-Christmas leftovers.

After getting his own dinner at a local carryout, Pete eventually drifted over to 300 Livingston Terrace and found Junior back in the neighborhood. He was with some other guys, just standing on the steps. Junior was selling crack that night, Pete says. Pete walked up to him, beer in hand. Time to chill out and coast the night away.

“We was just standin’ out,” Pete remembers. “I was drinkin’ my beer. He was like, ‘Man, I feel good. I feel good. I ain’t drink nothin’. Smoke nothin’.’ I said, ‘I feel good too.’ Then I showed him the beer.”

Within a few minutes, Pete says, all the buddies left. One got paged. Another one had to use the phone. And another’s grandmother was calling out for him to come inside. Junior sold some crack to a woman. Pete went back to his Dodge to get some leftover chicken wings. As he was returning, he says, a dark-colored Grand Marquis pulled up.

The passenger-side back-seat window rolled down.

“‘What’s up?’” a guy inside asked, Pete recalls. Then the guy pointed a gun out the window. Pete started running.

Junior started running, too. But he ran the same direction the Marquis was heading. Junior was trying to get to the door of the nearest apartment, No. 300. Pete says at least 20 to 30 shots were fired. “He ran the wrong way,” Pete says. “That’s why they got him. That’s why he got hit.”

Junior was struck in the neck, according to Pete. That’s all it took.

“‘I’m hit! I’m hit!’” Pete remembers Junior shouting.

Pete insists he didn’t see or recognize anyone in the Marquis. Still, he knows that there were at least three people inside and can give a detailed description of what they were doing. One shot from the front passenger seat, he says, and another, hanging out the window, fired over the roof of the car from the back driver’s-side seat.

“I was right there, and I didn’t see nothing,” Pete says. He says he didn’t go back to the neighborhood for two and a half years—his way of sobering up. Three weeks ago, he says, he fired up a crack pipe again.

13. Deborah Brown was sitting in her bedroom watching television when the shots that killed Junior were fired. She had just moved into the Livingston Terrace complex; she didn’t know Junior. But a connection of sorts was forged between them—one of the bullets intended for Junior ended up in her living room wall. She heard the bullet pierce the window and then the wall. “I was a little shaken up,” she remembers. She waited a few minutes before peering out her window. She saw Junior lying there with his blood running down the hill.

Six years later, Brown still occupies the same apartment. But she knows nothing about what happened after the ambulance took Junior away. “I wondered if he had died,” she says. “I never heard no more about it. It’s always happening around here. I feel sorry for him. That’s all I could do.”

14. Aside from John Thomas Cade Jr.’s blood, the scene was fairly empty when MPD Officer Curtis Lancaster came to collect the evidence from Livingston Terrace. “I have a recollection. If I remember correctly, [Junior] was gone from the scene when my partner and I arrived,” the officer remembers. “It didn’t take very long. I don’t remember finding any evidence at the scene. No bullets. No cartridge casings. I’m assuming the shell casings stayed in the vehicle as they were shooting.”

15. In Patricia Cade’s apartment, there is a well-traveled picture of her son. The photo shows him sitting on a couch, with a half-moon grin, clutching his niece Jasma’s bottle. He is bearded, skinny, and tall. Cade used this picture when she made fliers begging for information about her son’s killer—the ones that have Junior posthumously asking, “Why did I have to roll out?” “Roll out” was one of his favorite phrases.

It is the same picture that was used on the cover of Junior’s funeral program. The photocopied version makes his long face look grainy. I have seen this picture in many rooms of Cade’s apartment. I have seen it tucked in photo albums, resting atop Cade’s big leather-bound Bible in her bedroom, crashing on the living room couch in front of the RCA television, and idling on the floor by Cade’s big blue-gray chair.

16. A year after the murder of her son, Patricia Cade couldn’t get near the crime scene. She was too busy trying to right her jumbled brain. She had lost her stamina, her patience, and her short-term memory. When Junior died, it had brought up all the old emotions surrounding her daughter’s death. Everything collided, and the grief turned her mind into mush.

Her job at the Pentagon, where she had worked for almost 20 years, became a chore. She would often stare into space, forgetting easy assignments, big assignments, even why she was there. Sometimes she couldn’t even write her name. Sometimes, she would just scan around her office and think everyone was just stupid. Sometimes she just didn’t show up at all.

It was at this point that Cade started attending meetings at the Stephanie Roper Foundation, an Upper Marlboro-based support group for families of homicide and drunk-driving victims.

Jan Withers, the foundation’s victims’ services coordinator, speaks in a calm, kindergarten-teacher voice. When she discusses the issues around death and grieving, she’s passionate, clear-eyed, and careful. She lost a daughter to a drunk driver many years ago. She remembers Cade’s state of mind:

“Pat would crash and totally and completely be out of it,” Withers says. “She’d call me from home in bed. There was not a consistent pattern. She’d drop out of society….I think she didn’t want to live. She would have that monotone. ‘Hi, Jan, I’m at home.’ Long pauses in between. ‘How you doing, Pat?’ ‘I don’t know.’ That kind of dropping out.”

Eventually, Cade started making other calls. She would phone the Homicide Unit—so often, in fact, that she could recognize some detectives by voice. Her question was always the same: “How’s my son’s case?” There were also early-morning visits to the unit. Later, the case was transferred to the Cold Case Squad, the unit in charge of working old murders. There were many calls and visits there, as well.

Cade knew about the hail of bullets, and the lack of evidence and critical eyewitnesses. Motive was merely a set of theories. Neither she nor the second detective assigned to the case, Charles Porter, had any clear suspects at all. Not even a name.

“There was no leads,” Porter remembers. “It’s just like a lot of other cases in the city. Nobody talks.”

Cade couldn’t get over this fact—nobody talks. How could they not be talking? Someone was shot and killed in their neighborhood—her Junior. So, against the advice of detectives, she continued to visit 300 Livingston Terrace and talk to relatives, the relatives who might know something. Roughly two years after her son died, she caught a break. She got a name—Paul Lucas.

Lucas, Cade was told, looked just like Junior. He was tall and thin (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) and sometimes wore a beard. Just like her son. They wore similar clothes, and on the night he died, Junior was wearing an Eddie Bauer coat and fatigue pants—same as Lucas used to wear. According to several sources, Lucas had made many enemies throughout the neighborhood and beyond as a “stick-up man” and crack dealer.

Cade began to hear the rumors floating up from 300 Livingston Terrace. One of the rumors that she continues to believe is that Junior was gunned down because he looked like Lucas. A case of mistaken identity.

Unfortunately for both Lucas and Cade, the stick-up man met his end a little more than a year after Junior. On April 25, 1996, Lucas was shot 10 times—three to the head and seven to the body—as he sat in a gray ’88 Chevy Caprice along the 1500 block of 1st Street SW, according to police records. Two buddies were in the car with him at the time of the shooting and survived.

Shortly afterward, Lucas’ killers were identified. But no connection could be made between them and Junior’s death.

Cade had never seen Lucas before she saw his photo in his case jacket. She has spent the last couple of years trying to prove the Junior/Lucas theory. Verifying the theory, she believes, hinges on the testimony of relatives. She had become obsessed with one in particular—”Eugene,” a cousin of Junior’s and his best buddy.

Last March, Cade took Eugene to Detective Michael Will’s office, on the first floor of the 7th District police station. Will is the third and current detective assigned to Junior’s case. He believes in the Junior/Lucas theory.

Eugene mumbled and shifted uneasily. Cade pushed and pushed, believing that Junior’s closest friend must know something. She ended up doing most of the talking. After a few grueling minutes, the buddy offered to come back to Will’s office the next day. Then he would talk, he promised.

Eugene never went back. Instead, the next day, he changed his travel plans, fleeing to Georgia to visit relatives.

“Will is up against a door he can’t go through,” Cade says. “I feel the same way. I can’t break through that door. So I try to assist him, but we can’t get through that door.”

17. During one of my interviews with Patricia Cade in October, I mention that I have found Eugene. I tell her that he’s now working in a barbershop along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, that he seems to have gotten his life together, that he’s even engaged.

Cade, sitting in the living room of her apartment, offers a “That’s nice.” She hasn’t spoken to him since last spring. I know she feels anything but sweetness toward her nephew. Still, I float the possibility of a reunion between the two. She agrees, but only skeptically. She doesn’t believe it will ever happen.

When I go to pick up Eugene for our meeting, I find that he has skipped out. Cade’s response is straightforward: “Fuck ‘im and feed ‘im beans.” It’s a saying she employs quite often.

18. “Eugene” and other close relatives used to hang out with the dudes he thinks killed Junior. There were games of touch football growing up, goofball times as teenagers, and head nods as they crossed into adulthood. Eugene keeps his distance now, visiting 300 Livingston Terrace only to check on Boatwright, his uncle. If he wanted to, he could have retaliated for Junior’s murder long ago. Wasted those fuckers—the ones in the Marquis with the guns. And the one he thinks paid for it to be done.

The killers are within Eugene’s grasp, among his outer circle of acquaintances. They are a few cell-phone calls away. Down the block. Up the street. They are reachable and punishable—through either legal or illegal means. But in Eugene’s mind, justice seems too difficult a concept.

On a recent October evening, Eugene, his new wife, and I take a trip to his family home in Oxon Hill, Md. He quickly takes a seat and lets his mother do the talking. Sitting at her dining room table, she recounts the tragic pileups that have marked her family—the deaths of her siblings, her own rape at 12, the strokes that turned her husband into an invalid—her son sits on a sofa in the living room, church-mouse quiet. He stares at his hands, then off into space. He is a safe where knowledge and bad thoughts are locked deep away.

I don’t blame him. Eugene took Junior’s death hard. A few months after the funeral, he says, he crept down to the basement of his parent’s house and placed a .44 Magnum to his head. He thought of Junior, he thought of his father and mother, and after a few tearful moments, he put the gun down. But the mood held. Instead of bullets, he loaded up his body with PCP and pot for the next six years. At night, he would stare at a picture of Junior resting in his coffin. During the day, he might opt to put on Junior’s fatigue pants, which he had taken from Patricia Cade’s house.

Last spring, after he stood up Detective Will, Eugene ended up in two different mental hospitals, one after cutting himself in the neck. He says he felt this way: “Emptiness. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it. It’s just disturbed me. Mad. Angry. Sad.”

Two months ago, Eugene finally got clean and got a straight job as a barber. He will talk openly only about himself and what he has been through. As for who might have murdered Junior, he offers only a few fleeting details.

This may not be selfishness on Eugene’s part. A traumatic death has a way of freezing you into depression, warping your world so badly that you can only seethe with self-doubt. Especially when the tragedies of your family continue. It’s hard to envision a clean justice, the kind shown on TV cop shows, when your friends are still getting shot up. In November 1995, Dorvae Monroe, a neighbor, got shot and died in his arms. Another friend, Keith, was shot and killed three years ago. Last January, his cousin Lonnell was shot five times and eventually recovered. A few weeks ago another cousin, Tre, was shot in the leg on the Hill.

“A lot of things I just didn’t see,” Eugene’s mother says. “We went to a wake [a few years ago]. The girl was 17, 18, 19 years old. Somebody had shot her with her baby in her arms. [My son] went with us. He said, ‘I know her.’ She looked like a little doll. Afterward, he said, ‘Why all my friends die?”

If they didn’t die, many more friends have taken trips to prison. Since Junior’s death, at least five of Eugene’s cousins have faced or are facing jail time for drug offenses.

So Eugene lets his mother plow through the catalog of tragedies. All he can do is listen with his hands in his lap, his eyes glassy, his sturdy frame hidden among his baggy clothes. It’s only when she leaves that he begins to recover.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, I catch up with Eugene at the barbershop. It’s his first steady job in a long time. He walks in wearing a Redskins jersey and big jeans. He smiles, his mood set to an even vibration.

As a rookie barber, Eugene approaches each head of hair with a steady, careful concentration. It’s as if he trims each fade in slow motion. He tells me that he thinks Junior would be doing the same thing if he were alive today: holding down a steady job, with a wife and a kid and a decent apartment. In the months before he died, Eugene says, Junior would lament his lack of skills, the rut of just hanging out on the Hill among his cousins, the ones with nicknames like Scoonie, Slang, and Weenie.

Eugene says Junior told him he sometimes wished he were dead. “He was tired with the way he was living,” Eugene remembers. “We used to sit around, drink Rémy and stuff. Depression—that used to be his main topic. He always seemed depressed. He’d be funny and then depressed and then funny again. He didn’t let it get to him….You didn’t know it unless you were close to him.”

Taking a break, Eugene slips out of the shop and into his beat-up white Grand Marquis with me. He cranks up Biggie Smalls as we take a short drive to 300 Livingston Terrace. At the time of Junior’s death, Eugene was riding along 4th Street, heading to another buddy’s house.

When I ask him again if he has ever figured out who might have killed Junior, he looks down at my tape recorder and asks for it to be shut off.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Eugene checks himself back into the psychiatric ward of Prince George’s County Hospital. He tells his mother he wants to be where “Junior is at.”

19. “‘C’mon, Junior, let’s go,’” Patricia Cade says, recalling another conversation with her son. “He wouldn’t ask where we going or anything. He’d just hurry up and get ready. And we’d go down to the boonies. Just drive down there to the water.”

From the driver’s seat of her pickup truck, Cade is using this story as a way of mapping out the rest of our night. We are going on a trip, and if it was OK for Junior, it will be fine for me. It’s the night after her son’s birthday, and Cade is in a “funk.” She has spent the workday inside, asleep. She could really use a trip.

“I’m going to show you where we used to live,” Cade says.

By 9 p.m., we have hit all of Junior’s old haunts in District Heights, along Marlboro Pike and Pennsylvania Avenue—where he went cardboard-box surfing, got in fights with Stasia, ate up his mom’s macaroni and cheese (special ingredient: Cheese Whiz), collected tadpoles, and brought home a boy who was being beaten by his father. (Junior kept him hidden in his room for a week before anyone found out.)

As Junior got older, his relationship with his mother grew difficult at times. But she kept up with him, stayed on him, made sure he finished high school. Whenever he failed, she would challenge him. When she found out his attendance was erratic, she placed him in an alternative boarding school called Eckerd, located in Doncaster, Md., just a few miles away from the Potomac River.

Even though Eckerd was a good 30 miles from her house, Cade visited him nearly every weekend. When Junior wanted to start up a basketball team, she coached it. When there were fights over laundry and where to hang wet clothes, she brought Junior the rope and wood to make the clothesline he designed. When Junior got injured in a game, with college scouts watching him, she went to the hospital with him to get an ankle brace. He graduated with solid grades on Aug. 27, 1991.

“[The boys at Eckerd] looked up to Junior,” Cade says. “If the boys had a discrepancy going on, Junior was the mediator. He had everybody calm down. They didn’t want him to leave by the time he graduated.”

After Junior came home, he tried all types of jobs—from telemarketing to construction. As Cade goes over these details, on our way to Eckerd, she turns her attention to the October Story— the one where Junior collapsed and told her of his depression. Again, she tells the story through a dialogue with her son.

“‘What’s wrong with you?’” Cade remembers asking.

“‘Junior, are you all right?’”

This time, her fourth telling to me, she gives the story its bittersweet ending: That same night, Junior decided he wanted to attend a training program, Job Corps. A few weeks after he was killed, his acceptance letter came in the mail.

As Junior waited for that letter, he still seemed depressed. Some mornings, Cade would wake up to find her son sitting in a chair by her bedside, just watching her. Sometimes, when she was at work, he’d crawl into her bed to sleep.

Christmas Eve of 1994, just three days before he was killed, Junior stayed up all night putting together a bicycle for his niece Jasma. The next day, he had dinner with his mother. After dinner, he asked for a dollar for the bus. “Why you need a dollar?” she asked, noting that she had given him five $20 bills as a Christmas present. Junior took out the twenties and showed them to her. He said he didn’t want to spend them just yet.

So Cade gave him a dollar. “Where are you going?” she asked.

“Up on 3rd Street,” Junior said. He was going to the Hill, a place he hadn’t visited in a while.

Two days later, Cade received several 911 pages from her daughter. At Washington Hospital Center, she got to hold and rub Junior’s hands. They were still warm.

On our way to Eckerd, Cade’s truck hits a possum with a thump. Up until that moment, the possum was the only living thing traveling along Route 6 with us. The road is a two-lane highway, dark and shrouded by tall green trees. When we finally get to Junior’s school, Cade pulls up and steers her headlights toward the buildings hidden by forest.

The gate to the school is locked. Cade says it never used to be locked. The sign out front advertises not a school, but a detention center.

“I guess that’s why I haven’t been back here,” Cade says, sitting dejected in the driver’s seat.

Cade thinks maybe the real Eckerd is farther down Route 6. We eventually hit the Potomac River, the road’s dead-end. And Cade realizes that her son’s school, the place where he thrived, no longer exists.

“Oh shit, that was it. That place was it,” Cade says as we stare out into the murky, wide berth of Potomac. “They changed the damn place. Well, damn.”

20.From prison, where he is serving time for

a parole violation, Junior’s cousin Scoonie McNeely wants to relate a bit of information: Four days before he died, Junior spoke with his older cousin, who was then serving time for a different offense. Junior was upset.

A lot of neighborhood tension had led up to this phone call. According to several sources who refused to be named in this story, Paul Lucas had been beefing with another dealer during the summer of 1994 over a stolen car. The dealer had taken the vehicle, and Lucas wanted revenge.

Words got so heated that at one point, Lucas shot a gun at the dealer, striking the guy in the leg. The dealer and Lucas had been at odds ever since.

In October, the dealer and Junior stood in a parking lot along Livingston Terrace. They were just talking. Suddenly, Lucas appeared out of some bushes, clutching two pistols. The dealer quickly drew his gun, too. After a tense standoff, the two retreated without firing their weapons.

That’s when McNeely got the phone call from Junior. “The dealer thought Junior was trying to set him up,” he says, adding that Junior was anxious. “I was like, ‘Chill out. Stay in the house. Something might happen. You don’t have to go around there.’”

McNeely believed that Junior’s worries were serious. “When he told me that, I felt something,” he says. “You know when you get a funny feeling?”

Junior didn’t pay any attention to his cousin’s feeling.

According to sources, there were three men in the Marquis, and they were hired by the dealer to kill Lucas, or possibly Junior. Most believe it was a case of mistaken identity. These sources still hang out on Livingston Terrace, still know the alleged killers and see them around. They are just unwilling to go to the police.

21. Michael Will has been working Junior’s case for more than three years, and he has only a stack of stories. A big man with sandy brown hair and a forceful way about him, he has gained one thing from this case—a strong friendship with Patricia Cade. He believes she has been instrumental in keeping this case active among his many old cases.

“She is one of the strongest women emotionally that I have ever come across,” Will says. “I don’t blame her. She’s not going to quit.”

Will has heard many stories about the circumstances surrounding Junior’s death, most of which he deems untruthful. But he does believe in the Junior/Lucas theory.

As he sits and sifts through the files in an interrogation room in the 7th District police station, Will believes the case could be closed, if only he could find witnesses and deal with the 200 other cases he’s charged with solving. If only someone would call him.

“Real simple—if I had the cooperation, it would have been closed,” Will says. “I don’t think the family has been entirely forthcoming….I believe there are family members that have access to what happened and who were involved, but I believe that they are keeping the information from the police and Ms. Cade.”

22. After Junior died, his mother made sure to do one thing: videotape his funeral. She felt as if she had so few of his things, so few mementos, so little time with him. Even though taping the funeral might be macabre, it would at least make her time with Junior stretch a little longer.

One weekday night, Cade pulls out the videotape for us to watch in her unkempt bedroom: In the dark wood chapel of St. Bernardine’s of Sienna Catholic Church in Suitland, the family starts gathering early. All the cousins and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews are represented. Even Junior’s father—a man family members describe as dissolute and never deeply involved in Junior’s life—has shown up.

On the tape, mourners line up to say their last words to Junior. He is dressed in a dark suit with his hands folded. The tie was supplied by a co-worker of hers, Cade says. A Bible is next to his head, and red roses drape the coffin at his feet.

Cade starts narrating the proceedings. When the priest comes over to her on the tape, she looks confused. “I don’t know. Help me out,” she says to the screen. On the tape, she clutches a big leather-bound Bible. It’s the same one leaning against her small television.

Watching the undertaker perform the placing of the pall, Cade gets a little annoyed—she would have liked to have done that. When the priest tucks Junior in and closes the coffin, Cade says she would have liked to have done that, too.

Eventually, Cade starts quoting lines of scripture before they are read on the tape. “Hear our prayer,” “Deliver us from evil.” She has watched this video countless times—so often that it’s starting to look worn out. Portions are grainy, and some of the speeches are inaudible.

But Cade says she had to watch it. “Had to critique it,” she says. “If I ever had to do it again, what would I do differently? There was a couple of things I would do differently—the placing of the pall would be for one. The folding of the covers would be another—I would do it. If I had to do it again, I want to wash her body— since that’s all I have left: two girls, Stasia and Jasma. Do those little things.”

“Let me take care of my last due,” Cade says. “My mother said, ‘You had ’em, take care of ’em.’ That’s a part of taking care of them—making sure they are tucked in, they all right.”CP

There is a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the solving of the murder of John Thomas Cade Jr. If you have any information related to the case, call Detective Michael Will at (202) 698-1335.