Two men have been arrested in the cold case killing of a woman shot to death on the streets of southeastern San Diego 20 years ago, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) announced Wednesday.
Investigators said San Diego residents Jamar Phillips, 37, and Samuel Sayles, 39, were booked into jail Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 18-year-old Crystal Odom. The men were taken into custody by SDPD detectives and gang suppression officers.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated.
On April 29, 1995, Odom was shot and killed in the 6500 block of Akins Avenue in the Encanto community. Odom was driving a car with her boyfriend while their 10-month-old daughter was in her car seat in the back.
Suddenly, a car carrying five suspects began to following Odom’s vehicle and pulled up to the driver’s side door. Police said several gunshots were fired into the victim’s car, critically wounding Odom.
Odom died at the scene. Her boyfriend and baby girl survived the shooting.
The murder went cold and remained unsolved for two decades.
This past April, on the 20th anniversary of the killing, Odom’s family held a news conference alongside police, pleading for information on the cold case.
“It’s been 20 years, and we’re still here,” said father James Odom. “It gets harder every day. Every day is like the first day.”
Odom’s daughter, now grown, attended the news conference holding up a large poster with a photograph of her murdered mother. The young woman was brought to tears when talking about her mother and begged the public to “stop the violence.”
Odom’s mother, Gloria Jimenez, vowed to never stop seeking justice for her daughter.
“The people that did this to my daughter – they need to pay for this,” added Jimenez. “It is very painful, every day. I just want peace; I just want justice. We all want to move on with our lives.”
“Please, help us solve this case,” Jimenez pleaded.
Over the last few months, the SDPD’s Homicide Cold Case Unit received additional information and tips that helped detectives identify the murder suspects, officials said.
“Based on this new information, detectives, in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office, conducted extensive investigative follow-ups to bring forward a prosecutable case,” the SDPD said in a press release Wednesday.
Anyone with information on this case should contact the SDPD’s Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Phillips and Sayles are scheduled to make their first appearances in court Friday.