Nicole Westbrook became the face for a movement to stop street violence in Seattle when the innocent 21-year-old was shot to death in Pioneer Square one year ago this week.
She moved to Seattle to attend culinary school after her father was killed in action in Iraq. Westbrook had been in Seattle only a few weeks, and was walking home from a comedy club with her boyfriend when someone opened fire from the street and killed her.
Her senseless death stunned Seattle. Her story, however, is but one of many unsolved murders in the city over the past 3 years.
Gregg Smith thinks of the good times spent with his daughter. They used to take walks together, sometimes right along the very West Seattle beach where her body washed ashore last March.
“The hardest part is understanding why,” he said. “Why did it happen?”
Police say Greggette Guy came to watch a storm roll in one night last March when someone stabbed her in the throat and dumped her in Puget Sound. It's just one of 18 unsolved Seattle murders dating back through 2010.
“It just doesn't make any sense to me,” Smith said as he walked down the beach Tuesday.
Seattle Police say all 18 cases remain active investigations. They’re just lacking that one tip that will lead to an arrest. Police have been active on social media, putting out reminders, asking for tips and offering rewards. They’ve also set up a website with each victim’s name and picture, urging the public to come forward with information. (http://spdblotter.seattle.gov/catch-a-killer/)
Gregg Smith says a year later, he's still in grief counseling while his daughter's killer walks free.
“I just haven't settled into that, what it's like,” he said. “It's just an empty void that hasn't been filled yet.”
Smith still carries his daughter's obituary with him. He now takes his walks without her, but he say he's never alone.
“She's missed, but she’s here in spirit with me right now.”