Man's unsolved murder sends grief reverberating through two generations

Posted at 12:31 AM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 00:50:12-04

CINCINNATI — Rochelle Colson remembers the time of her son’s death exactly: 11:33 p.m. on March 27, 2012. Rodney Watkins Jr., 23, was shot to death while refilling his tires at a Marathon gas station.

Colson still doesn’t know who did it.

“It seemed like it was yesterday,” she said at a Wednesday evening vigil marking the murder’s seventh anniversary. “It’s new and it’s fresh. For the mothers it will never go away, the hurt and pain. “

Watkins left behind a son of his own, she said. Her grandson will spend the rest of his life without his father, whom she described as a loving, compassionate and artistic.

She hopes someday he’ll at least have closure.

“I’m not going to stop until the killer is found,” she said. “I’m going to keep on. I’ll fight for this young man.”

RELATED: I-Team Unsolved: Son's murder led Hope Dudley on mission to find killers

So will Hope Dudley, who turned her own son’s shooting death into a crusade on behalf of other unsolved homicide victims’ families.

Wednesday’s vigil followed a familiar pattern for her and other members of her organization, UCanSpeakForMe: The mourners and advocates gathered in a circle, the release of the balloons in Wakins’ honor, the posters advertising a reward for information in bright red capital letters. The group lit remembrance candles as the sun shone overhead.

It’s all essential to keep the murder in the public consciousness and illustrate the dire need for resolution, she said.

“As long as these people are left here to commit other crimes, we need to get them off our streets,” she added. “Our young people are growing up fatherless."