REWIND TO THE CRIME: 4 years later, police search for man who killed D.C. journalist
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The man who murdered a D.C. journalist is still on the loose four years later.
Charnice Milton, 27, was on her way home from a story when she was shot and killed after she got off the bus in Southeast.
May 27, 2015, began as a typical day for Charnice. A reporter for Capitol Community News, she was covering a community meeting at Eastern Market, and by 9:30 p.m., she was heading home on Metrobus, transferring at Good Hope Road and 25th Street.
"When my daughter left from Capitol Hill that night, she and I had this understanding, she always would text me," said Francine Milton, Charnice's mother.
Milton still has the message on her phone that her daughter sent that night: 'On my way home.'
"I held that phone tight in my hand that whole night," said Milton. "Because I was waiting, anticipating because she said, 'I'm on my way home.' I didn't recognize she was on her way to her heavenly father's home at that point."
The text was sent at 9:28 p.m. and less than 15 minutes later, Charnice was dead. Police say the bullet wasn't meant for her.
"We believe she was caught in crossfire," said Cpt. Anthony Haythe, who heads the homicide branch at D.C. Police.
Haythe said the shooter was on a dirt bike or scooter and opened fire at the intersection as Charnice was walking from the bus. There were early reports that a man grabbed Charnice to shield himself, but Haythe calls that a rumor that investigators never confirmed.
He said, four years later, there are still no suspects or persons of interest and they don't know who was the target of the shooting.
"Folks have called in to our hotline, have sent tips," said Haythe. "Those things have been followed up on. To date, we have not gotten enough information to warrant an arrest warrant."
He said investigators never found surveillance video of the shooting, but they did release footage of a group of dirt bikers spotted in the area soon after the murder. Haythe said it's still unclear if the gunman was in the pack.
"We believe the shooter was on a vehicle that resembles vehicles that were depicted in that video," Haythe said.
As we spoke to Milton near the intersection where her daughter was killed, two men on dirt bikes rode past.
"It's like a stirring in my heart when I see that," she said.
Milton drives by the intersection where her daughter was killed every morning on her way to work. She said some days are more difficult than others, and there are times she's broken down in tears.
"There are times where in my heart, I hear her speaking to me and it's so clear," she said.
Milton describes her daughter as "quirky," and passionate about her faith in God, Dr. Who and volunteering at D.C.'s Folk Life Festival. Charnice wanted to be a journalist despite being unable to speak until the age of three and struggling long after she found her voice.
"People teased her in elementary school and middle school, even in high school," said Milton. "People made fun of her because of the way she spoke."
Charnice was determined and went on to earn a bachelor's and a master's degree in communication. She went out of state for school but wanted to come home to cover the community where she grew up.
"She wanted to do community news," said Milton. "She wanted to be a part of the community."
She is certain people in the community know who killed her daughter.
"Someone somewhere is lacking peace right now because they know something," she said. "Because they may have been out there, they may have been on the back of someone's bike, they may have a family member who was there."
While nothing will bring back her daughter or make her drive to work any easier, four years later, she's hoping someone reading this will finally do the right thing, and speak up.
"There will always be hope," said Milton. "There will always be hope."
"We close cases that are 20 years old, 15 years old," said Haythe. "No one has given up hope at all in getting this case closed."
If you have information about this case, you can contact D.C. Police at 202-727-9099 or text a tip to 50411. You could be eligible for a reward of up to $25,000.