RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We uncovered a significant indictment Wednesday in a headline making murder and now police credit the media coverage for cracking the case. For almost 100 days, investigators kept us updated as they worked to find Michael Brown Jr's killers. The 20-year old was gunned down outside a Richmond nightclub in March.
We've spoken with the lead detective on the case several times since the slaying and Wednesday night he told NBC12 police can't do their job without the public's help and our reach as media is best way to get to them.
The pain in Michael Brown Sr's tearful plea to find his son's killer was palpable.
"He was my best," he cried at a press conference. "My very best and for him to be gone like this, it doesn't make sense."
The cracking voice and gut-wrenching sobs burned into the collective conscience of the city.
"I think it really humanized Michael Jr. and allowed the public to empathize and really want to help with this case," explained lead Det. Rick Edwards.
The news of the elder Brown's death, possibly from the heartbreak of losing his 20-year old son a month earlier, apparently didn't sit well with witnesses. Edwards said it was the stories we produced about his passing that motivated them to come forward.
Officers canvassed the area and spoke to people who were at Club Aurora where Michael had been celebrating his birthday before he was gunned down, but Edwards thought they may have only reached 100 people that way.
"We hit the airwaves with all the press we've done in this case it allowed us to expand the pool of potential witnesses out there and that's what really broke the case for us," he said.
Now with the arrest of three people and Wednesday's murder indictment of 22-year old Willie Seaward, this standard of media outreach is something Edwards hopes to continue.
He believes this outcome helps to correct a common misconception that murders are solved by forensics. He maintains eyewitness testimony is usually the key. That's why the Crime Stoppers Hotline is crucial.