WEST POINT — At the mention of her son Wednesday morning, Willie Mae Spraggins broke into tears, her voice shaky.
On Nov. 25, 2019, Spraggins came out of her West Point home into the front yard and found her 40-year-old son, Jamel Banks Sr., lying on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds to his body. He was pronounced dead on scene by Clay County Coroner Alvin Carter.
On Wednesday — the one-year anniversary of Banks’ death — Spraggins is still seeking justice for her son as his murder remains at large.
“That’s my only baby, my only child,” Spraggins said, choking up during a Wednesday morning press conference held by the West Point Police Department. “They just took him away from me.”
The department held the press conference to renew calls for public assistance into the murder as well as an unrelated missing person case, both of which remain unresolved. The police launched an investigation immediately following the murder, but hit several roadblocks with false or insufficient information, said Det. Ramirez Ivy, who is in charge of the case.
“There have been rumors that we wanted to give up, we wanted to squash (the case). … We have not closed the case. We are not going to close the case,” he said.
While the investigation continues, the murder has taken a great toll on the family, Ivy said.
“Every day that she walks outside of her house, she has to look outside in her front yard and think about what happened on this day — something that would never leave her life,” he said.
Moving forward, Ivy said he hopes the community can think on behalf of the family and provide the police with truthful, useful tips.
“We need more. We need factual information,” he said. “We owe the Jamel Banks family the truth about what happened to him on this day a year ago.”
Two-year-old missing person case still ongoing
The police also called for help on the missing person case of Rahman Hernandez, who was reported missing by his mother, Kim Brown, on Nov. 30, 2018.
Hernandez, then 30, lost touch with his mother on Nov. 21 that year, and was seen by a neighbor five days later, Det. Raven Ross said during the press conference. He was last seen wearing a gray hoodie and blue jeans, Ross said.
There have been no new developments since the investigation began, Ross said, despite the collaborative ground searches and further investigation efforts from police at the local, state and federal levels.
Ross urges the community to come forward with helpful tips.
“In the beginning, we were given several tips on this case that led us to dead ends,” she said. “Police are asking now that anyone with factual information regarding the disappearance of Mr. Hernandez to please come forward.”
Community members with tips can contact the Golden Triangle Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-530-7151 or reach the police department at 662-494-1244.
Yue Stella Yu was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.