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Mississippi investigator canvasses South Side for answers in her son’s murder

Pamela Dortch on the 5200 block of South Winchester, near the scene of her son La’Dell Barnett's murder earlier this year. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times

It was hard for Pamela Dortch to keep the tears from rolling down her face Saturday as she canvassed the block where her son was killed two months ago.

With the sun beating down, Dortch walked the 5200 block of South Winchester in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, passing out flyers sharing the few known details in the death of her 23-year-old son La’Dell Barnett — found around 4 a.m. March 25, fatally shot by someone who got out of a car, opened fire, got back in the vehicle and then sped off.

Pamela Dortch of Yazoo City, Mississippi, walked the 5200 block of South Winchester in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, passi

A criminal investigator herself for a district attorney’s office in rural Mississippi, Dortch told the Chicago Sun-Times that she made the trip north in search of answers that Chicago police have not been able to provide.

“I won’t stop until I have closure,” Dortch said. “We need to get this murderer off the street before they take someone else’s life.”

Pamela Dortch (left) with family and members of Crime Stoppers canvasing and talking with residents of the 5200 block of South Winchester. | Rick Majewski/For the Chicago Sun-Times
Pamela Dortch (left) with family and members of Crime Stoppers canvasing and talking with residents of the 5200 block of South Winchester. | Rick Majewski/For the Chicago Sun-Times

Walking the block, Dortch said she got some information that might be helpful from people in a home near where the shooting happened in the 1900 block of West 52nd Street. She said she may be back to canvass again.

“It’s been hard trying to hold it together,” Dortch said. “So far it’s been a successful day of getting the community involved.”

Dortch was joined in her efforts by other members of Barnett’s family, including his great-aunt, sister, cousin and uncle.

Three Chicago detectives joined in, along with members of Cook County Crime Stoppers and anti-violence activist Andrew Holmes. They stopped the few people who walked by, or cars driving through the neighborhood, to tell them about the slaying and to ask for any tips.

Pamela Dortch talks with Chicago detectives while they canvass the 5200 block of South Winchester. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times
Pamela Dortch talks with Chicago detectives while they canvass the 5200 block of South Winchester. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times

“When the family comes out to help, it takes it from just a statistic and helps make it personal, but it can also help the family feel satisfied to know they’re doing something,” Crime Stoppers chairman George McDade said. “We’re not asking for names, but we want information so we can pass it along to police.”

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 535-7867, or Chicago Survivors at (800) 883-5587. Both are offering $1,000 rewards for information leading to an arrest.