NEW ORLEANS -– It's been nearly five years since Brandon Hawk’s sister was murdered, but the wound still feels fresh.
“When you lose somebody like that, that close, that young, that sudden, it takes a big giant gap out of your whole family life,” said Brandon Hawk.
Jessica Hawk was 32 when she was found stabbed to death inside her Bywater home on August 11, 2008. Her killer is still on the loose, and the case remains cold.
Hawk's family visits New Orleans every year from Cincinnati in hopes of some gaining momentum in the investigation.
“We need something,” said Brandon Hawk. “It's really still hurting us all a lot.”
A memorial garden in the neutral ground of St. Claude Avenue at Montegut helps ease the pain. Hawk was a botanist who would have started a job at the City Park Botanical Gardens a week after her murder.
“When something like this happens, you have to respond more strongly with what is good and that's the way to live,” said Lee Horvitz, Hawk’s former fiancée, who cares for the garden up throughout the year.
But while the garden helps keep Hawk’s memory alive, her family can’t find closure until her killer is brought to justice.
“That's got to be the absolute hardest part is not knowing who did it and just knowing that they're still kind of roaming free and they could be out there hurting someone else,” said Brandon Hawk.
Hawk's family met with a New Orleans police detective Wednesday.
Detectives say the biggest challenge in this case is the lack of witnesses. They were able to gather some evidence from Hawk’s apartment after the murder, but were unable to link it to any suspects.
Hawk’s family believes police are doing what they can, but need more resources.
“We feel like they're pretty overwhelmed with work, and they don't get to spend the quality time that you think they would need on a case like this,” said Brandon Hawk.
And until Hawk's killer is brought to justice, her family can't begin to heal.
“For the sake of justice, and for all of us, this kind of thing has to be solved,” said Horvitz.
“Every day, we wait for that phone call,” said Brandon Hawk. “We think it could happen anytime.”
The reward for information that brings Hawk's killer to justice is $25,000.
If you can help, call New Orleans Police or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.