In our I-Team Unsolved series, WCPO is examining homicide cold cases in Greater Cincinnati.
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Teresa Shields has been dead since January. That feels like a lifetime to her family.
“She was beautiful inside and out,” her father Dale Shields said. “Extremely loving, caring and considerate of other people.”
Teresa was killed by a shooting New Year’s Day in Middletown.
She worked in home care, her mother said. She worked tirelessly to help others.
“She would buy things for them with her own money,” Tina Shields, Teresa’s mother, said.
“She was loved by not only her family, but she had lots of friends and coworkers that truly loved her,” Dale Shields said. “She was a very special person. Those who didn’t know her, they really missed out.”
BELOW: Vigil held for Teresa Shields
But it’s not enough to just honor Teresa’s memory, her parents say: They want justice.
“I just want whoever took her life to have to pay for it,” Dale Shields said. “When you look at this whole situation, there’s really nothing that compares to the fact that I lost my daughter. I want justice. But in the end, my daughter’s gone.”
Shields was in a car with her boyfriend, Steve Waldon, on the morning she was shot. Police said she was shot by a high-powered rifle from a vehicle driving near them on Roosevelt Blvd. near Wicoff Street in Middletown. Based on the shell casings, police said Teresa was shot with an AR-type rifle.
“It’s unusual,” Middletown Police Lt. Scott Reeve said. “Most of our shootings involve handguns, and it was unusual that this one involved a rifle round."
Teresa wasn’t supposed to be shot, let alone die that night, detectives say.
“We’re confident she was not the intended victim,” Reeve said. "Because of (Waldon’s) activities, he was the target. And she ended up paying the price for it.”
Waldon is currently in jail awaiting sentencing on drug trafficking charges.
Teresa “deeply loved” her boyfriend and was trying to pull him out of the drug business, according to her mother. Teresa wanted a “normal life” for Waldon and herself.
Reeve said Waldon hasn’t given police much information on the shooting.
“I wish Stevie Waldon was more forthcoming with information, because we think he knows more than he’s telling us,” Reeve said. “It’s hard to put a case together with individuals like (Waldon). When you have individuals involved in criminal activity as a part of their livelihood, they’re not very forthcoming to the police department."
Detectives have one new development that could help put a suspect behind bars — the shooter’s car.
Reeve said the crime lab is processing the vehicle, which he couldn’t identify for this story.
“We’re hopeful that the evidence will help lead to who the perpetrator was,” he said.
The vehicle was retrieved from Chicago, Reeve said. DNA evidence takes months to process, and Reeve said “it’s not like on TV.”
“We’re very confident that the people that shot and killed Teresa were shooting from the vehicle that we currently have in our possession," he said.
More physical evidence was found in the car, Reeve said. Investigators are still waiting on evidence from a cell phone and DNA evidence found on shell casings.
“We do have suspects,” Reeve said. “But we can’t rely solely on the physical evidence. We do need information from individuals."
Reeve said people have been willing to talk to police, but very few would agree to testify in court — and it’s difficult to make a compelling case without witness testimony.
“I have faith that it’s going to be solved,” Tina Shields said. “We just need people to talk. I know with as many people around here who talk, somebody knows something. They’ve got to know something.”
Tina said she hopes a witness — even if it’s a stranger — will be courageous enough to testify in court.
"Teresa would've done it for them in a heartbeat,” she said. "She wouldn't have thought twice about it. Even for somebody she didn't know, a total stranger. She would've did it.
“Just please, if anybody knows anything, please tell,” Tina said. “It’s ripping us apart inside.”
Police are still asking for tips in the case.
“We’re begging for information,” Reeve said.
Authorities ask anyone with information about Teresa Shields’ death call Det. Steve Winters at 513-425-7768. Callers can remain anonymous.