Search for Justice

Lance Turner
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Scott Swan/Eyewitness News

An Indianapolis family is still waiting for justice seven years after a young boy was killed by a hit and run driver.

Lance Turners's mother Eunice remembers her son's smile.

"Everybody loved him. He was sweet, kind," she said. "He loved to eat. He was an eater. He loved to play. He just loved to have fun."

In February of 2000, Eunice's family changed forever. That was when nine-year-old Lance was struck, dragged and killed by a hit and run driver. That driver is still on the run. It happened in an apartment complex parking lot in the 5900 block of West 38th Street.

Witnesses say Lance jumped on the hood of a car. Police believe the driver hit the gas. One of Lance's older brother's watched it happen and remembers every detail. 

"Dude jumped the curb and hit him.  Knocked him unconscious," said Lamont Turner Jr.  "And laid him on his hood of his car. He backed up and tried to get him off, I guess. My little brother rolled off. He ran right back over him."

Police suspected Jorge Vasquez was the hit and run driver, but they never found him. They suspect he fled to Mexico.

Helen Marchal is Chief of Staff for the Marion County Prosecutor. 

"He's not stopped at customs," said Marchal. "He passes through the border in the middle of the night.  And for all we know, has assumed another name."

Acting on a tip, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police detectives checked out a new lead. It led them to a near east side neighborhood and a home where someone believed Jorge Vasquez was living.

Undercover detectives knocked on the door and talked with the homeowner, explaining that they were searching for a hit and run suspect.

Police determined that the suspect did not live in that house, but they got another tip. The suspect's name was listed on an nearby apartment lease. In fact, one of the neighbors identified Jorge Vasquez' picture.

At the apartment, police found a Jorge Vasquez. But it was not the Jorge Vasquez whom they believe was behind the wheel of that car. It was another frustrating dead end, but they refuse to give up.

"He's the type of individual that has no proper documentation.  He came into this country illegally, leaves under the cover of darkness," said Marchal.

Eunice Turner is also frustrated.  "I hate it. I mean, it's ridiculous. It's been seven years now and we don't have closure. They don't know where he is.  But my baby is gone."

Lance's father has a box of memories, including the organ donor plaque they received in Lance's honor. He takes Lance's brothers and sister to the cemetery on a regular basis. He says it is where they can remember their brother.

Even after seven years, the tears continue to fall.  Lance's brother Landon will always feel the impact of the loss. "When you lose someone like that, it just breaks you, for real," he said.

The loss of their brother was followed by another family tragedy. Three years after Lance was killed, Eunice Turner was severely burned in a house fire.

"I love candles. I'm always lighting a candle. I fell asleep with it on and I guess I knocked it over," she said.

Doctors had to amputate her two legs. Now divorced from Lance's father, Eunice lives in a nursing home. She clings to all she has left from her son, his last picture.

If authorities ever catch and prosecute Jorge Vasquez, it will bring some closure to a family who has been waiting for seven years.

Lance's father Lamont Turner is confident police will find the killer.  "He ain't got away with it.  He's still going to serve his punishment.  If not here, he will serve his punishment."

Lance's brother Lamont Jr. says he can't forgive him, a sentiment his mother Eunice also carries.  "How can you forgive somebody like that? He didn't have not remorse. No nothing.  Didn't care. Just kept on going. No. I can't forgive him. I never will."

If you have any information about the location of Jorge Vasquez or about the death of Lance Turner, you are encouraged to call Crimestoppers at 262-TIPS.