It’s not a question easily answered.
Joyce Porter can’t tell her grandchild that his father was killed and abandoned in the woods. A 3-year-old wouldn’t understand that.
Instead she says he’s in heaven.
The child says he wants to visit.
It’s been more than a year since Porter got the call that her youngest child and his close friend were found dead. The day was meant to be a celebration.
She had been preparing herself on July 5, 2010, for a cookout for Hammonds’ brother’s birthday. Hammonds was the only one who hadn’t arrived.
Before the celebration could begin, Porter was called to the woods behind Glenn Hills Middle School where her youngest child, 20, and Kayla Wells, 19, had been found by a passer-by.
Both had been shot several times and found in the same vicinity. Richmond County sheriff’s Investigator Mark Dobbins said it hasn’t been determined whether they were separated when they were killed or if one tried to run away.
No one has been charged.
“We developed suspects over the course of the case, but none that we could definitely say was involved or come up with enough probable cause for arrest,” said sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles.
Porter said she still hasn’t given up. She keeps in touch with investigators almost weekly as she tries to find out information on the streets.
“I’m trying to let them do their job, but I want to do my job,” she said.
Investigators still don’t know why Hammonds and Wells were in the woods that day, but because a vehicle wasn’t left behind, Dobbins said it appears they were brought there. They are also confident more than one person was involved.
“Anytime there are multiple people involved, the chances of solving the case increases a little bit,” Peebles said.
Porter said she not only wants to find out for herself who took the life of the youngest of her four children, but also to provide answers for the two children, ages 1 and 3, Hammonds left behind.
Hammonds’ 24-year-old brother has stepped in as a substitute father for the children. Porter said he makes a point of being at all the father functions just as Hammonds would have.
“It still bothers me,” Porter said. “When I look at his oldest son, I see Jeramie. That helps me cope.”
Christmas this year is especially going to be rough, Porter said.
Phone calls to Wells’ family were not returned.
Wells and Hammonds had been close friends for some time after meeting in high school.
She had lost both her parents in the two months before her death and was a friendly face to Porter. Wells often came over to watch movies and accompanied Hammonds’ family to First Friday.
“We’re not going to back down,” Porter said of her search for answers. “He was their trash, but he was my treasure.”