Back in June 2019, Kate Brown and Carnell Sledge ended up shot to death at the Rocky River Reservation. No one has ever been arrested.
Through a records request, the I-Team obtained police video never seen before. It shows the moment Cleveland Metroparks officers raced to a call for two people shot. The call came in late in the afternoon.
We noticed that video shows a lot of traffic in the park at the time of the crime. Cars and motorcycles and people on bikes. The video also reveals several vehicles parked in a small parking lot at the scene.
How did no one see or hear anything?
The police video also shows people casually walking dogs there. Police took statements from kayakers, a nurse and one man claiming he’d been sitting there doing paperwork.
On police radio traffic, you hear an officer say, “We don’t see a weapon. We don’t see a weapon or anything, so this whole area is gonna need to be searched.”
And, “Again, everyone else, nobody sees anything…”
The mother of Carnell Sledge thought back to the moment she found out her son had been murdered.
“Our hearts dropped. I got chills. I cried,” Darlene Sledge said.
And, the father of Kate Brown reflected on the time since the murders.
“And I want people to know the last two years have been torture for our family. Been absolute torture,” Tom Brown said.
Kate’s sister spoke of what it’s like to wait for an arrest.
Alex Zuban said, “We go places. Normal places. And every face I see, I think, it could be you. You could have done this.”
“I want to know the steps that are being taken to find out what happened. Who did this and why?” Darlene Sledge added.
We took questions to the Metroparks police. We asked what the agency could tell the public now that is different and could help solve the case. Spokesperson Jacqueline Gerling said, “There is no new information.”
The Metroparks Police say they’ve done nearly 200 interviews while investigating. But, the police have released almost nothing about what they have on the case.
The families of the victims say Kate and Carnell were not lovers, but good friends. By all accounts, good people. They met at the park that day and never made it home.
A police report shows investigators recovered a few shell casings, but the report says nothing else about that evidence.
And, even for this story, the Metroparks police are saying little more than police need tips.
We also asked what motives have been ruled out? Robbery? Gang initiation? Hate Crime?” Gerling said, “At this point, nothing’s ruled out. We don’t know what happened here.”
Meantime, we connected with Scott Roder from The Evidence Room.
Roder is a Northeast Ohio man who’s earned national recognition reconstructing crime scenes and creating animations of what happened. He’s taken an interest in this case reviewing the autopsy report, visiting the scene of the crime, speaking to relatives of the victims. and more.
Hoping to spark justice, Roder spent hours of his own time working for nothing in return and generating a startling animation of how the crime may have happened based on the evidence.
“I think, what we’re hoping to accomplish is a visual reconstruction, a forensic animation,” Roder said. “Sometimes the suspect is not the big, bad guy at the corner, but it’s just a person who just lost control.”
Roder showed us his animation and described it, saying, “We know the male was shot twice. Most likely while he was sitting on the park bench. We know that the female was shot once from the rear. She was found…half on the water. Half off the water.”
The I-Team now also asking new questions about an anonymous letter.
Months after the crime, someone wrote to us claiming a woman committed the murders. Describing her in great detail. Saying she stood there and had words with Carnell Sledge before she started shooting.
As soon as we got the letter, we turned it over to the FBI, which is working with the Metroparks. So, whatever became of that? We asked the Metroparks if anyone had determined if the letter was a possible lead, or something written by someone with some fantasy.
Gerling told us, “The letter specifically has been looked into. Sitting here, you and I are talking, we’re still looking for information.”
Scott Roder also went with Kate’s sisters to Metroparks Police headquarters.
Weeks ago, relatives got a look at some of Kate’s belongings from the day she died. She’d just bought a new purse. Had just been to the gym. Could any of this provide a clue?
“Some people worry about their grocery list, and what they have to do. And, this is, unfortunately, what we constantly think about,” Kate’s sister said.
Darlene Sledge added more to the mystery behind how Kate and Carnell ended up at the park that day. His mother told us, “Totally unbelievable. Carnell had a plan to be at his grandma’s for dinner.”
She said, Carnell had organized a family dinner for that hour. She told us, “Grandma starts texting. ‘Are you on your way? Carnell, the food’s getting cold. Call grandma.’”
So, why would anyone want these people dead?
Carnell worked with kids and loved to work out.
“I’m not just saying because that’s my son, but he was a great guy. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a great guy,” his mother said.
And, Kate’s father told us how she made a difference.
“She loved life. She loved animals. She loved cats, ferrets, dogs. Just adored her nieces and nephews. She made them feel special, loved,” Tom said.
The families of the victims are grateful for a fresh look at the case. They hope the police video, the crime scene animation, or something might at last generate a tip that leads to an arrest.
Carnell’s father, Carl Sledge, said “Both of ’em. Precious lives were lost that day. And, both families need to know what’s going on.”
Carnell’s mother also pointed out, “There’s more to it. I don’t know what it is, but there’s more to this. And its gonna come out”
For the right tip, police have a $100,000 reward out there.
For now though, the killer is out there, too.
If you know anything, call CrimeStoppers at 216-252-7463. You do not have to leave your name. Again, a tip leading to an arrest could be worth a reward of $100,000.