Local Cold Case: Who Killed Jamey? - 8 News NOW

George Knapp, Investigative Reporter

Local Cold Case: Who Killed Jamey?

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Jamey Walker, 1981 photo Jamey Walker, 1981 photo
Jamey's prom photo Jamey's prom photo
Eleanor Walker talking with George Knapp on the bridge, 2004 Eleanor Walker talking with George Knapp on the bridge, 2004
Detectives on the North Shore Road bridge, 1981 Detectives on the North Shore Road bridge, 1981
Dave Hatch, cold case detective Dave Hatch, cold case detective

(May 7) -- A real life cold case file has haunted Metro detectives, as well as one Las Vegas family, for 23 years. It's a kidnapping that turned into a murder, and police are hopeful this one can be solved. The I-Team's George Knapp brings you a story that he's followed since the beginning, in 1981.

On another Friday night, 23 years ago, Jamey Walker was enjoying the final hours of her life. Eleanor Walker isn't merely bragging when she says her daughter Jamey was close to the perfect teenager: an honor student, cheerleader, prom queen, deeply religious and by all accounts, a good girl, who, like her mother campaigned for civil rights and helped the less fortunate.

Eleanor Walker: "I feel like I'm letting my daughter down if I don't find out what happened."

George Knapp: "Do you think about her everyday?

Eleanor Walker: "Yeah. (Mrs. Walker chokes up) Everyday."

As the former president of the local NAACP, Eleanor Walker has helped so many people over the years. Now she's asking for help in finding out who kidnapped and murdered her daughter.

On the night of May 8, 1981, Jamey returned from a date to the home where she lived with her mother. A few hours later, someone came into the home and forced Jamey to leave without even putting shoes on. Early Saturday morning, a ransom call was made to the People's Choice, once a popular nightspot on a now vacant corner.

The caller demanded $75,000 from Jamey's father -- or else. Over the next several hours, there were other phone calls, including a message from Jamey that her mother shouldn't worry. The kidnappers called again and said Jamey would be released. But on the morning of Sunday the 10th, hikers found a battered body in the Las Vegas wash. Detectives swarmed to the bridge over the North Shore Road and determined that Jamey had been thrown over the side, only to crash on the rocks far below.

Dave Hatch, Metro cold case detective: "The autopsy showed there was tremendous amount of internal damage. I'm not sure how much was from the fall or how much might have been from somebody beating her."

Dave Hatch is not only working the case now, he was on the scene that day when Jamey was found. Despite some criticism from the black community about the pace of the probe back then, the thick case file shows that five detectives followed hundreds of leads and interviewed scores of witnesses. It still haunts some.

"She was a good kid, well-known, very popular in high school, just a beautiful little soul and someone takes her out and murders her. She deserves more than just to be part of a cold case file tucked away at Metro," Hatch said.

Jamey's kidnappers may have been after drug money, detectives say, because there were persistent reports that some members of the Walker family were trafficking. Eleanor Walker doubts that but thinks the kidnappers cased the house several days before the abduction. She saw four males in a car, apparently lying in wait for Jamey.

Today, the large field of initial suspects has been narrowed to a mere few. One name of interest is that of Willie the Cannon Shannon, a former professional boxer with a four-page rap sheet of violent crimes. In 1981, Shannon was interviewed about the Walker case. Not long after Jamey's murder, Shannon was sent to prison for the brutal rape of another teenage girl. Metro admits to having new information in the Walker case but won't say publicly what it is. Still, they need a little more.

"I think the suspect is right in that file. I think with a little assistance from the public, we can put a case together," Hatch said.

Until this week, Eleanor Walker had never gone to the bridge on North Shore Road. She wasn't sure if she could handle it. She met the I-Team there in hopes of getting someone to talk.

"I'm sure that there's somebody that grins and speaks to me and says hello, who knows what happened to my daughter. It's impossible someone around here doesn't know something. She was so tiny and tried to help everybody, just really strong...."

Police say there may have been a woman who helped the kidnappers gain entrance to the Walker home. They're hoping that someone involved in the crime may have confessed to someone else.

If you have information in this case, you are asked to call either: Crime Stoppers at 385-5555 or Metro Homicide at 229 3521. Or you can call the I-Team at 792-8800. The call can be anonymous, if you prefer.

A substantial reward fund was created for information leading to the arrest of those who did this.

An interesting sidenote:   "There is some strange synchronicity at work here," said George Knapp, I-Team reporter.  "I was contacted out of the blue weeks ago by a viewer named Eleanor Walker to see if we could work on the story of her daughter's death. Mrs. Walker had no idea that this reporter was on the scene when Jamey Walker's body was found. The images from that day are impossible to erase. The cold case detective who also was contacted by Mrs. Walker also happened to be out there on the crime scene."

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