The mother of an 18-year-old killed more than two decades ago finally let out a sigh of relief this week after two men were arrested in connection with her daughter's death, left a cold case until now.
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.
"You carrying a big 'ole rock for 20 years," said Crystal's mother Gloria Jimenez. "You know it is just heavy, a big load. You just can't take it off. When they came to my house and told me they arrested two people, I was able to let go of that."
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 follow 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.
Jimenez said this news has been a long time coming.
"Who gave them permission that left them in charge to take my daughter’s life," Jimenez said. "She's my diamond, this is who I lived for, that kept me going."
In the years since her death, Crystal's mother organized marches against violence in the neighborhood.
She launched her own investigation of the murder and shared photos, talking to anyone who would listen and help her find justice for her daughter.
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 written release Wednesday.
Jimenez says she does not know either of the named suspects arrested.
Both are charged with murder and have been booked into County Jail.
Police say more arrests are anticipated in connection with this case.
Anyone with information on this case can 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.