WASHINGTON - Police have made an arrest in the 2004 murder of a 23-year-old D.C. mother who was gunned down in Southeast D.C.
"I'm a little numb, a little bit in disbelief, overwhelmed, but my heart is smiling," said Deborah Evans-Bailey.
She has been waiting since Sept. 6, 2004 to finally say those words after her daughter, Kendra Smith, was killed after being shot while sitting in a car outside of their home.
Evans-Bailey has been relentless in her push for justice since that tragic day. She received the call about the arrest from a detective on Thursday while she was on the job at the Federal Reserve.
"He said, 'We made an arrest in Kendra's case,' and I said, 'Who?'" she described. "He said, 'Tony Aiken' and I just screamed at the top of my lungs."
Aiken admitted he was in the car with Smith on the night of the shooting. They had been dating. However, Aiken claimed when the gunfire began hitting his vehicle on D Street, he drove off around the corner and stopped in the 400 block of Burbank Street.
When police arrived, they found nine shell casings from a .22 caliber pistol in front of Smith's house.
According to a court affidavit, police now believe that was a cover-up and Smith was shot at point-blank range from inside the car from someone sitting in the driver's seat.
Aiken told police he was the driver and no one else was inside the car.
"Detective [Charles] Fultz took all of the evidence into consideration," said D.C. Police Lt. Anthony Haythe. "There were different theories that were put out - what may have occurred to cause the death of Ms. Smith. He was able to look at all of those factors again, re-look at the evidence that already existed."
The court affidavit says police investigated for years about a claim made by several people that a man nicknamed "Bubble Eye" was the person who did the shooting. But in 2016, a key witness to that claim recanted.
"In my journey, God has actually used his flashlight to guide my way," said Smith's mother. "He's been navigating me ever since I released myself and allowed God to do what he had to do, and it has been a long time."
Aiken was ordered held without bond during a hearing at D.C. Superior Court on Friday.
D.C. police say there are no other suspects in the case.