The last time Sheila Bustamante saw her husband, he had just poured himself a soda and was in their front yard. She doesn’t know what made him walk down the street in the southside neighborhood where he had lived for 20 years. And she doesn’t know why somebody shot him and left him to die in the street, a block from his home.
When paramedics responded at 5 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2018, to reports of someone on the ground, they found 55-year-old Arturo Bustamante dead near South Sixth Avenue and Nebraska Street.
When Sheila noticed her husband wasn’t in the yard, she didn’t know where he had gone. When she heard sirens, she figured a car had crashed into her neighbor's wall, which had happened before. She had the couple’s 11-year-old son to care for so couldn’t go see what the commotion was. Around 9 p.m., police showed up at her door.
“It’s senseless,” Sheila says. “Lives are changed, and we don’t know why.”
Arturo’s family was one of three families of victims who shared their tragedy at Homicide Survivors annual Unsolved Case Press Conference on Tuesday afternoon. The nonprofit dedicated to supporting the families of murder victims held the conference to draw attention to unsolved homicides during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 7-13.
After Arturo’s death, his sister Isabel Bustamante along with Sheila canvassed the neighborhood with flyers offering a $2,500 reward for information that would lead to the arrest of his killer. Isabel stuck the flyers on every mailbox in the neighborhood where her brother was killed.
Along with other family members, the women put the flyers in plastic sheaths. They stapled and taped them to telephone poles and storefronts. And when February came, they plastered the flyers in preparation for the rodeo, hoping someone might know, hoping someone might do the right thing.
Sheila still calls the detective in the case on a regular basis, but so far, she and her young son have no choice but to live with only questions and no answers.
Living without answers has become very familiar to 57-year-old Margie Bernard, whose sister was strangled in a room at the Palm Court Inn, on East 22nd Street in 1995. Mary Bernard was 32. She was renting a room at the inn by the week, saving money waitressing and working on getting a place for herself and her three kids, Margie said.
“It just galls me that Mary is gone,” Margie says, dapping her eyes with a crumpled-up tissue. “And somebody has been out there able to live their own life and not be accountable for what they did.”
Margie says she doesn’t want revenge. Having lived close to half her life desperately missing her sister, she wants an apology. She wants the killer to know what losing Mary did to her family — to the parents who died never knowing who killed their daughter and the grandchildren who don’t know what happened to the grandmother they’ll never meet.
Margie still prays that someone will come forward with some information that will bring answers and closure.
Homicide Survivor Executive Director James Gierke says close to 40 percent of the families enrolled in their services have loved ones whose deaths are unsolved. He says when a case goes unsolved, the impact on families is tremendous.
Twenty-two-year-old Edward McGuire was shot during an apartment complex barbeque on Feb. 12, 2017. Though his death goes unsolved, his mother, Teresa Moore, is certain someone knows what happened and is afraid to come forward.
People can anonymously report any information they have to 88-CRIME. This is a nonprofit organization that does not ask for people’s names, or record or trace calls. In fact, online and mobile tips are encrypted to protect the tipster’s identity. To find out more and see information on other unsolved homicide cases, go to 88crime.org.
“Help bring peace to my son,” Moore said at the press conference. “We need this solved. 88-CRIME is the best way if you’re scared. The smallest information might mean a lot to solve this case.”
Homicide Survivors is holding its annual Candlelight Vigil for Homicide Victims in observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week on Saturday, April 13, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Children’s Memorial Park, 701 W. Edgewater Drive.
CORRECTION: Arturo Bustamante was in his front yard before walking out to the street where he was shot. During one flier campaign, his family put fliers up in preparation for rodeo.