Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- 24 hours after 23-month-old Kiera Holmes was murdered, loved ones and neighbors made emotional pleas for witnesses to come forward.
Now, three men wanted in connection with the killing are in custody – 24-year-old Terrious Owney, 21-year-old Tyrone Knockum and 23-year-old Narkee Hunter.
For Silence Is Violence member Nakita Shavers -- who lost her own brother, Dinerral Shavers, in a high profile murder -- it's a welcome turn of events.
"I think this situation, in particular, touched many people, touched hearts everywhere," she said.
With a $4,000 reward up for grabs, calls began rolling in to the Crimestoppers hotline.
While that doesn't always happen, Executive Director Darlene Cusanza said this case stirred strong feelings.
"When children are involved, or truly an innocent victim is involved, definitely, you're gonna see that anger, you're gonna see people rallying around that, and that's what we need," Cusanza said. “The answer to this is the community.”
In a city where witness cooperation is a challenge, Crimestoppers is seeing more positive signs -- a 10 percent increase in calls over the last month and a 30 percent spike for all of 2011, compared to the previous year.
Encouraging? Yes, according to Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission, but he isn't ready to call it a trend.
"If we're going to be consistent with this, this has to happen with every offense that's out there -- not just the high-profile cases, but all of those," he said. "The public needs to recognize that the police are only gonna be an effective crime-fighting force if the public provides them with the information they need to develop the evidence, to make these arrests and bring these individuals to justice."
Recent developments in the wake of Kiera Holmes' death, some believe, provide a blueprint moving forward.
"If we put this same effort all the way around -- 365 days a year -- I think we can see better results,” Shavers said. “If we give every victim this same respect, I think we can see better results."