PINE LAWN, MO (KTVI)-- Pine Lawn police wanted to help find who killed Ebony Jackson-Shelton, even though they were not working the case. They held a fundraiser to build a reward for a big lead.
Officers held a bucket to car windows. They waited with smiles on their faces, while drivers stopped at Jennings Station Road and Natural Bridge Avenue and dug through pockets and purses.
"Thank you so much. Thank you," one officer said.
Chief Rickey Collins hoped to raise at least $5,000.
"I will contact Breckenridge Hills Police Department, the jurisdiction where this all started," he planned. "And St. Louis City Police Department. The money will be turned over to them."
The Chief added that if investigators found a suspect before the reward was announced, he would donate the money to a college fund for Shelton`s infant son.
"This was my vacation week," but, Collins said that would have to wait.
Tuesday night, he heard how St. Louis Police found Shelton dead in her car on the city`s north side. That was five days after her three-month-old son was found, healthy but alone, in a Breckinridge Hills apartment hallway.
"To stuff the mother in the trunk of a car, and to make this a homicide," Collins struggled for words. "That disturbs me."
One officer was doing rather well, his bucket filled with folded bills and change. He said his secret to success was to remind drivers that Shelton`s killer was still at-large.
"We need to help her family out," he said. "So, let's do this."
The details of Ebony`s death continued to shock those who drove through Pine Lawn. The morning after Shelton`s body was identified; many still did not know she was dead until they arrived at the fundraiser.
"Did they ever find her?" one driver asked as she dropped money into an officer`s bucket.
"She was found in the back of the trunk," the officer responded, as professionally as she could. "Thank you for your donation."
Pine lawn spokesperson Lou Thimes, Jr. said he was particularly shaken by the fact that the former East St. Louis resident would never return home to Oklahoma. While the chief of the nearby Beverly Hills Police Department came to help collect money, Thimes explained that drivers, and even pedestrians, reached into their pockets for one reason.
"This could be anyone`s daughter. This could be anyone`s sister, anyone`s niece, aunt."
Ebony`s aunts Krisha and Felisa Wilkins did not know about the fundraiser. When they saw a preview on FOX 2 News in the Morning, they came to help.
"I thank them for being involved in something they don`t even have to be involved in," Felisa looked around at all the officers on each corner and in the medians.
Felisa remembered seeing her niece fawn over her brand-new son on a visit to the St. Louis area in November.
"She was happy. She kept saying, `I`ll be back. I`ll be back,`" Felisa was calm.
"But, she didn`t come back," Felisa and Krisha broke down in tears.
"Hopefully, this reward money will give us some leads," said Chief Collins.
Pine Lawn Police will host another fundraiser Thursday morning. They will gather at the intersection of Jennings Station Road and Natural Bridge Avenue in Pine Lawn at 9 a.m.
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