Five years later, Bywater murder victim's family still searching for answers

Published: Aug. 1, 2013 at 1:59 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM CDT
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New Orleans, La. - Nearly five years later, the mystery continues – who killed Jessica Hawk?

On August 11, 2008, Hawk, who had moved to New Orleans from Ohio in 2003, was found stabbed to death inside the Bywater home she was renting in the 3000 block of Chartres Street.

The crime was never solved.

"We've gone through every scenario our heads can go through," said Jessica's brother, Brandon.

For Brandon, it's a constant struggle.

While New Orleans police say that their investigation continues, Brandon and other family members believe the case has gone cold – lost in the shuffle.

"Five years of not knowing what's going on is the worst thing a human can go through, especially it being my sister, someone that close. It's just…it'll tear your heart apart," Brandon said.

Each year, Brandon and his wife travel to New Orleans from their hometown of Cincinnati to raise awareness about the case and to tend to a memorial garden that was built in Jessica's honor in the neutral ground along St. Claude Avenue.

Loved ones say the garden represents Jessica's many interests while keeping her memory alive in the city and neighborhood she fell in love with.

Jessica's long-time boyfriend, Lee Horvitz, still lives in the area and works in the garden throughout the year.

"(The memorial is) really meaning more and more to the neighborhood. People come out and get herbs. People come and use the bench. I'm out here watering – people driving by and honk, say 'it's beautiful,'" Horvitz said.

For family members, each visit brings back strong emotions.

"(Jessi) was just the best person anybody could ask for – a super sister and a really good friend," Brandon said.

Despite the many questions that keep haunting loved ones, they vow to remain strong.

As they've done during past visits, they're once again calling on New Orleans police to re-ignite their investigation and find Jessica's killer.

"We're fully supportive behind (the NOPD). We know they've got a lot going on. We just want them to keep a good head on their shoulders and keep us mind," Brandon said. "We're just looking for some help."