POLITICS
04/28/2016 06:02 am ET Updated Apr 28, 2016

Landscapes Of Murder: Photos Show The Emptiness Left Behind After Baltimore Killings

"I still have days where, in my mind, I can’t even fathom that he’s not gonna walk down the walkway anymore.”

Name: Harris, Dominique

Location: 1900 Baker St.

On Dec. 28, 2015, a few blocks from where Freddie Gray was arrested, 22-year-old Dominique Harris was gunned down in the middle of Baker Street’s 1900 block around 4:25 p.m.  

Dominique, shot multiple times, was the day’s second homicide. He was also Baltimore’s 341st last year. In 2015, 344 Baltimoreans were murdered -- the deadliest year on record for Charm City since 1993, when 353 people were killed. The homicide rate is roughly 55 per 100,000 residents, which is quite jarring for a city that is now home to just over 621,000.

Outside of the city, however, no one knows Dominique’s name -- and Wil Sands, a writer and photojournalist with Fractures, a small collective of journalists, is aiming to change that.

After 25-year-old Gray sustained a fatal spinal injury in police custody last April, Sands traveled to Baltimore to cover the protests and riots that followed his death. He observed that most media outlets were doing “parachute journalism,” sending reporters who had little prior experience of the city just to cover that story. Their stories lacked depth and significance -- especially the visual narrative.

“There were lots of images of African-American kids rioting and breaking into CVS,” Sands told The Huffington Post. “The stereotypical images -- but there was no backstory.”

Sands said he was “blown away” by the conditions being faced in Baltimore -- such as extreme blight and high poverty levels -- as well as the residents' reaction to them. So he stayed in the city following the protests to work on a documentary highlighting what the city’s residents are doing to aid their communities in the face of such extreme poverty and marginalization. It was during this venture that Bodymore, Murderland was born.

The project, composed of 31 photos, depicts the antithesis of grassroots organizing and highlights landscapes where residents lost their lives after the body and yellow crime scene tape had been removed.

These victims, statistically speaking, were a lot like Dominique. Ninety-three percent were men and 93 percent were black. Most of them died from gunshot wounds on the city’s west side, and at least 50 percent were between the ages of 18 and 30.

Though their lives quickly became just a number, a crime scene and maybe a small blurb in local media coverage, these victims were friends, fathers, mothers, daughters, brothers and members of the community. The Huffington Post found out who some of these victims were before they were murdered in Charm City last year.

Name: Davis, Evan Kent

Location: 5100 Park Heights Ave.

When Evan Kent Davis was 5 years old, his mother bought him a toy tool belt. “You know, the little tool belt like you buy little boys,” Robin Harrison told HuffPost. One Saturday, as the family lounged around their home, Evan donned in his tool belt and hard hat decided that he was going to fix the bathroom door.

“Wait a minute, Mommy. Let me fix that for you,” Evan said.

“And he took his little screwdriver out of the belt and started fiddling with the door like he was really fixing it. I thought that was cute,” Harrison said, laughing. “I thought that was so adorable. And me and my daughter kind of just looked at each other and smiled.”

Evan went on to get a certification to practice carpentry from Woodstock Job Corp. and work with his father, who is also a carpenter, and his brother at the family’s business.

But on Dec. 11, 2015, at around 12:40 a.m., Evan was shot and killed on the 5100 block of Park Heights Avenue. The 27-year-old left behind a 5-year-old daughter, Emonie Kylie Davis, whom he had named and given his initials.

“He loved his daughter. He could quote all the books in the Bible. He prayed with his daughter,” Harrison said, emphasizing Evan’s deep religious faith and the fact that he had been baptized. “I heard him praying one time asking God to forgive him and to not let any of his sins be passed on to her as a generational curse.”

Evan was a man of many talents. Not only was he a carpenter and junior security officer, he also played drums for the Baltimore Rockers Marching Band; founded his own marching band at Carver Vocational High School; and started his own football team, the Park Heights Bulldogs at the CC Jackson Recreation Center. The Bulldogs won their championship game on the night Evan was murdered, according to Harrison, and the team gave her the championship ring.

Evan also sang in the choir at Brown's Memorial Baptist Church, which is only about 50 feet from where he was murdered, and he had a hilarious impression of Carlton from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

“Evan was my baby. That was and still is my heart. He was the air that I breathe. I just love my baby. You know how a daughter is with her father? That’s the same way a mother is about her son,” Harrison said.

She added: “I still have days where, in my mind, I can’t even fathom that he’s not gonna walk down the walkway anymore.”

Name: Barnes, Miriah

Location: 400 Manse Court

It was Halloween night and Miriah Barnes was homeless. The young mother, who was pregnant with her fourth child, walked into Solid Rock Ministries and took a seat in the back of the church with her other three children.

The family had barely eaten, but thankfully, the church was throwing its fall harvest party. According to Gloria DiBlasio, the first lady of the church, younger children were given bags of candy while teens received gift cards. As her children ate, Miriah got up to use the restroom. When she walked past Ed DiBlasio, the church’s pastor, he handed her a McDonald’s gift card.

“Oh my God, we’re going to eat tonight,” Gloria DiBlasio recalls Miriah saying to her children.

That was eight years ago. Around 5:25 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2015, 27-year-old Miriah was gunned down in front of her children.

Miriah, who had dreams of becoming a social worker, frequently helped Solid Rock with its outreach and volunteer efforts. DiBlasio recounted memories of her and Miriah, a woman who believed in being charitable even though she didn’t have much herself, filling up Easter baskets and stuffing backpacks with school supplies for local students.

“Her heart was so big,” DiBlasio said before sharing her most recent memory of Miriah -- the night her children were baptized.

Miriah desperately wanted to be baptized along with her children. Even though adult baptisms wouldn’t be held until February, DiBlasio took Miriah through the motions of giving her life to Christ. Afterward, as the two ladies were decorating the church, they discussed their plans for the following week through bouts of laughter.

Not long after Miriah and her children returned home, someone knocked on their door. When she heard the knock, Miriah answered and stepped outside. Only seconds passed before shots rang out, according to the Baltimore Police Department.

At the scene, some family members showed a picture of the baptism to a local Fox News affiliate. It had been taken a few hours before Miriah was killed.

Name: Jolley, Ananias

Location: 1301 McCullah St.

Ananias Jolley was the epitome of carefree. The 17-year-old senior at Renaissance Academy, a West Baltimore school serving at-risk youth, oozed positivity. Regardless of any challenges or difficult circumstances, Ananias maintained a joyful attitude, Nikkia Rowe, the principal of Renaissance Academy, told HuffPost. She noted that she rarely saw the teen angry.

“Sometimes we run into kids in our line of work where you don’t necessarily see that love of being alive. So Jolley had this spirit of, ‘I’m here and I’m grateful to be here’ -- like just to be breathing,” she said, mentioning how Ananias loved giving hugs, telling people he loved them and being told he was loved in return.

“That carefreeness made him unique,” she said. “I can’t begin to put that loss into words.”  

On Nov. 24, Ananias was stabbed in the chest by another student at Renaissance. Almost a month later, on Dec. 20, he died from the injuries. Among those who attended the teen’s funeral were Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore city schools CEO Gregory Thornton and other city officials.  

Corey Witherspoon, the teen’s mentor, recounted the time when Ananias attended President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. The teen needed money for clothes so he reached out to Witherspoon, who took him shopping at Mondawmin Mall.

“Him actually swallowing his pride and asking me for what he needed -- that was a sweet memory, that he got over his pride,” Witherspoon told HuffPost.  

Ananias was athletic and loved gym. The teen was sharp, Witherspoon said, and was able to improve his grades quickly in classes when he was slipping. Witherspoon would often converse with Ananias, who had dreams of being a botanist or an architect, about his future goals and taking school more seriously.

“It was crazy when I heard him first say a botanist. I was like, ‘Do you know what they do?’” Witherspoon said, laughing. “But he did really know exactly what a botanist did.”

“He liked the career but he wasn’t all that good at science,” Witherspoon added with a chuckle.

Despite not being the best at science, Ananias was on the robotics team at Bluford Drew Jemison Stem Academy West. But Witherspoon will always remembers Ananias as a jokester.

“He was jovial, free spirited [and] carefree,” he said. “And he had a way of making you feel like everything was OK.”

Name:  Floyd Jr., Robert Lee

Location: 500 McElderry St.

Robert Lee Floyd Jr., affectionately known as Buttons to his family and friends, was Baltimore’s 344th homicide victim last year. Police found the 21-year-old’s body on Dec. 30 around 9:30 p.m. in a vacant home located at 500 McElderry St., in East Baltimore’s Oldtown neighborhood.

Robert had some run-ins with law enforcement. By the age of 20, he had collected charges for trespassing, marijuana possession, and discharging and possessing a firearm, but the East Baltimore native was more than his priors.

Robert was active in several local youth programs during his school years. He joined Arlington-Lewin United Methodist Church at the age of 12, joined the youth choir and served as an acolyte during Sunday morning services, according to his obituary. At 13, during his first shot at organized sports, Robert became the starting quarterback for the Randallstown Panthers, a local youth football program.

The video game enthusiast loved trying out the latest dance crazes with his cousins. His pride and joy, however, was his son, Syion.

Name: Doe, John or Jane

Location: Baltimore

Unlike with Evan, Miriah, Ananias and Robert, The Huffington Post was not able to find much information on Dominique -- or Daquan Johnson, whose crime scene photo is above. The two have become invisible, just statistics and crime scenes.

We’d like to tell their stories, too. If you know them, please email julia.craven@huffingtonpost.com and tell us your story.

 

Want to see more photos? Click here to go to Bodymore, Murderland.

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