NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Kourtnie Baham marked a milestone this year, graduating from the University of Holy Cross in New Orleans’ Algiers neighborhood and being accepted into their Ph.D education program at 27 years old.
Her two children and grandmother shared in celebrating Baham’s achievement. But, one person missing from the picture.
Baham’s mother, Bianca Forman, was violently murdered in 1992, when Baham was just a baby.
“It's just been so hard,” Baham said.
Like many victims of crime, her mother’s murder left deep emotional scars. Her scars are even harder to heal, Baham said, because she’s never been able to find closure, as her mother’s murder was never solved.
“I struggle with building relationships because I don’t trust people, because I feel whoever did this to my mom was someone close to her,” Baham said.
Baham was 10 months old when her mother was murdered. Forman was 17 and six months pregnant. Baham’s biological father was out of town on active military duty and the family lived with her grandmother and her grandmother’s boyfriend.
At the time, Forman was a student at O’Perry Walker High School, where Baham said she excelled and had big goals for her education.
“She wanted a better life, I think, and so that pushed her to keep going, even in spite of everything that was happening," Baham said.
But on Aug. 13, 1992 all her mother's dreams came to a tragic end.
That morning, Baham and her mother were home alone in the 3100 block of Lamarque street in Algiers. According to NOPD, Baham’s grandmother and her boyfriend returned home after an appointment and discovered a violent and tragic scene.
Forman was dead and 10-month-old Baham was lying on her mother’s dead body, soaked in blood.
"I was on top of her and I was covered in blood,” Baham said, recalling the story of her mother’s death. “And they thought something was wrong with me, and when the E.M.T. cleaned me up they saw it wasn't my blood it was all hers.”
After the murder, Baham moved in with her paternal grandmother and a new family now lives in her old home. But nearly 27 years later, many unanswered questions remain on who killed Bianca Forman, and what could have motivated someone to fire so many bullets into the body of a young, pregnant woman.
Winston Harbin is an NOPD cold case detective assigned to the case and said the manner of Forman’s death is especially chilling.
"The person shot her and ran out of bullets, which is disturbing because had they had more ammunition, I believe they would have shot her additional times," Harbin said.
Harbin said only one person recalled anything out of place in the neighborhood the day Forman was killed. But even that tip was weak.
“There was a mention of a vehicle perhaps a green truck, but nothing detail-specific," Harbin said.
This is what Harbin said investigators do know about the case:
The shooting likely occurred around 10:30 a.m. and investigators believe the murderer used a handgun, but the caliber is unknown. With no signs of forced entry, investigators believe Forman knew her killer. Another to clue to back up that theory is a conversation they were told Forman had with one of her siblings sometime before the murder.
“Bianca did speak with her sister at some point shortly before her death and mentioned she was having an issue with someone, but she never named that individual,” Harbin said.
Baham too believes the killer is someone her mother knew. For the past couple of years, she's researched the case in depth, leading her to think the killer may have been romantically interested in her mother. As for a motive, Baham said her mother could have rejected the killer.
“I don’t think she was interested in them," Baham said.
She said she suspects this unknown person couldn't bear the thought of biological father and mother having a second baby together.
"I think that could have been the breaking point for that person,” Baham said.
For several years now, she’s tried to find clues linked to her mother’s death and even gave some names to Harbin.
"Some of them very cooperative. Some have led me to other people who were cooperative, but nothing to a point of identifying a shooter,” Harbin said.
However, Harbin said he is positive that the killer spoke to someone about what happened that morning. And, he suspects that person can help find the killer, because only they would have details that investigators have not released to the public.
"Not all the shots were fired in the same position,” Harbin said. “The killer would know [how they were fired], and if the killer told someone and relay that information to me that would give some credibility to their information.”
Harbin said investigators hope that whoever has the crucial clues to crack the unsolved case will have the courage to come forward.
It’s a search for justice -- not just for the victim and her unborn baby -- but for her surviving daughter who lost so much on that fateful day. Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the NOPD at 504-658-5300 or 504-658 5315.