Deidra Hall remembers the phone call like it was yesterday. Nothing in her in life would be the same after it.
On June 21, 2015, she was having a barbeque at her home in Avondale at 3:45 p.m. on a bright Father’s Day, and Tamara Jackson, the voice on the other end of the line, was calling to let her know her son was dead – the latest murder victim in the city of New Orleans.
Ambushed inside his truck on a dead end street in Algiers, Kenneth Hall, a 27-year-old music promoter and producer, would be victim number 88 of 150 of 2015. And like dozens of the murders from 2015 the case remains unsolved. This despite Kenneth being killed on sunny Sunday afternoon in a working-class neighborhood with at least a dozen homes in close proximity.
Deidra believes people in the neighborhood saw her son’s murder. She is convinced that inside one of the homes is a person who has the information – that one tip – to solve her son’s murder – it’s what has consumed her since that day.
She said Kenneth was behind the wheel of his Nissan Titan when he shot and killed.
“I think one lady was in her window in her kitchen,” Deidra said, standing in the spot where her son died and pointing to a large window only feet away. She’s talked to the woman several times, but the woman swears she didn’t see the murder or the shooter. “She told me, ‘I fell to my knees, and I really, really didn’t see anything.’”
“She’s afraid,” Deidra said, wiping back a slow roll of tears that start automatically when she starts talking Kenneth’s murder, “and she doesn’t want to say anything.”
Deidra has returned to intersection of Marr and Donner streets where her son was killed many times, canvassing the neighborhood relentlessly, posting flyers, talking to neighbors and looking for answers or even a tip that might bring Kenneth’s killer to justice.
That woman isn’t alone, Deidra said.
Another neighbor was out cutting his grass and was able to identify one of the vehicles possibly, but he wouldn’t talk to detectives – also fearful of retribution.
Another witness told her, “‘I have a teenaged daughter… These guys are killers. They could come and spray my house with bullets.’”
“They’re all afraid,” she said of the reluctance of the neighborhood to help, “and the police don’t make them feel comfortable with coming forward, I don’t think, as far as protection.”
And yet Deidra isn’t upset at the unwillingness of many of those who live on the block to come forward. If anything, she understands their fears and the dangers that come with being a witness, testifying or helping police.
In addition to the neighborhood witnesses, Deidra said, multiple posts on Instagram right after son’s murder gives her a pretty a good idea who might be responsible.
“To get him in this spot, I believe that it was somebody that knew him,” she said. “To get him here, my mind says it was somebody that he knew and somebody he trusted.”
She has few answers about the end of her son’s life. She doesn’t know why he ended up at the dead end. “This area of town,” she said, “he, to my knowledge, was not familiar with it. There was no reason for him to come around here.”
Even as a young kid, she said her son was motivated, driven, and always looking for opportunities and his self-determined path to success. He always wanted to be his own boss, starting a business at 17 – including handing the negotiating and drawing up the contracts. “He was always trying negotiate, always trying to make a sale,” Deidra remembered. “Always, always.”
“He was going somewhere in life,” she said.
Like any good businessman, seeing potential in the music industry, Kenneth used his knowledge of contracts, an innate attention to detail and his ability to strike deals to grow his business putting on concerts at venues like the Lakefront Arena, the Superdome, the House of Blues and Harrah’s.
He was on the cusp of achieving the level of success he longed for when he was killed, she said. “The day that he was murdered he had this big, big concert going on at Harrah’s,” Deidra remembered. Kenneth hoped to make enough money from the show and another on July 4 at the Superdome to help his mother retire.
For every high-profile murder in the city of New Orleans like Will Smith and Thomas Rolfes, whose killings garnered national and even international attention, there are scores of victims like Kenneth Hall each year, who command little attention.
But that hasn’t stopped Diedra. She raised $15,000 in reward money on her own, and in the year that almost passed since Kenneth was killed hasn’t weakened her resolve.
“I know they are going to solve it,” she said. “The detective on the case is very good, and I’m praying to God. I don’t when and it how will be solved, but I know it will.”
Crimestoppers GNO invites you to use this Victim’s Blog to “SPEAK UP” and share Kenneth’s story. Keeping the story alive can help your family find justice and give hope for other families who are in the same place.