Cleveland family seeks answers one year after mother of three was murdered

Jasmine Washington’s case has been marked a priority for Cleveland’s homicide task force.

Cleveland family seeks answers one year after mother of three was murdered
Jasmine Washington was murdered one year ago in Cleveland. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The case has been unsolved for nearly 365 days.

A father continues to search for answers one year after his daughter was brutally murdered.

31-year-old Jasmine Washington was found dead hidden behind church steps in Slavic Village in Cleveland.

19 News found her case has been marked a priority for the homicide task force.

But will that be enough to solve it?

Cleveland family seeks answers one year after mother of three was murdered
Jasmine Washington was found dead outside of this church September 17, 2018.
Jasmine Washington was found dead outside of this church September 17, 2018. (Source: WOIO)

Washington was found beaten to death on September 17, 2018 at Broadway Christian Church on Engle Avenue, just half a mile from her apartment.

“It's not easy, it's not easy at all,” said her father, James Washington Sr.

“Every day it's a new journey of loss,” he said.

Jasmine was the oldest of six children.

Her father is a Reverend at Straightway Bible Fellowship in Cleveland Heights.

Church and music were a big part of her life.

“I played piano, so she started taking up piano and singing,” Washington Sr. said.

Last September, they went out for pizza together.

Washington never imagined it was the last time he would see his daughter alive.

“And the last thing she said to me is that she loved me, and we dropped her off at her apartment, her apartment was not that far from where she was murdered,” he said.

The call came from the medical examiner's office.

Washington was on the way to Bible study with his wife.

“And I was driving on the freeway, and it was not the easiest thing to hear. That my firstborn—I still didn't grasp it,” he said with tears in his eyes.

“We got out at West 130th, and I got out the car because I was screaming,” he said.

“I just started walking because I don't know, I was just in a different place.”

Washington walked all the way to Tower City, miles away, a place where he used to meet Jasmine.

A year later, sometimes it feels like no time has passed for him.

“It's still fresh in my mind that my daughter's gone, and I can't have her back,” Washington said.

Cleveland Police headquarters.
Cleveland Police headquarters. (Source: WOIO)

In a homicide, the first 48 hours are the most crucial.

If police don't get a viable lead, their chances of solving a homicide are cut in half.

The 19 News Investigative Unit found Jasmine's case is one of 26 unsolved cases assigned as a priority to the Cleveland Homicide Review Task Force.

The task force was created exactly two years ago this week to tackle Cleveland Police's low solve rates for homicides. During the press conference, officials said the FBI and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office would be a part of the task force.

Cleveland Police Detectives solved less than 50 percent of homicides in 2017.

The FBI reports national solve rates that year were at nearly 62 percent.

According to police records, so far the task force has solved six out of 26 of the priority cases the task force is currently working on.

That's 23 percent in two years.

“Is there any sense of hope knowing this case is a priority for the homicide task force?” Investigative Reporter Sara Goldenberg asked Rev. Washington.

“No, it does not give me hope. Not at all. It does not give me hope. Not giving me any answers. If it's a priority, then why aren't they out there looking under every rock?” he said.

Washington says he has not heard from Cleveland Police on his daughter's case.

He has something to say to the detectives working on it.

“Do your job and do it to the best of your ability and don't sleep until it's done,” he said.

“I want to hear that they have a suspect. I want to hear that they have somebody in custody. I want to hear that an arraignment date has been set for this person, I want to hear that that person got sentenced. I want to hear the judge say that what you did was heinous and wrong,” Washington said.

The struggle continues for Jasmine’s dad at church, where Washington tries to heal others while still trying to heal himself.

“You took a part of me, you took a part of my life. And although I have to forgive you, I'm never going to forget it,” he said.

“That person is out there, turn yourself in, do the right thing.”

Jasmine Washington's family made this poster after she died.
Jasmine Washington's family made this poster after she died. (Source: WOIO)

Cleveland Police say Jasmine's case is still open and active and they have no updates right now.

19 News asked for an interview with the homicide task force in July.

We followed up five times and so far we have not been granted one.

Jasmine had a baby before she died and that child is now in foster care.

The other two children are living with their father.

Jasmine’s family is holding a balloon release this Tuesday on the anniversary of her death at noon at Broadway Christian Church, 5900 Engel Ave in Cleveland.

Copyright 2019 WOIO. All rights reserved.