NEWPORT NEWS -- Patricia Harris expected to spend Christmas with all her children in 2001. December 21 of that year, her oldest child, Eric Matthews, was dead.
"All of a sudden, my Christmas holidays, I had to prepare for a funeral," Harris said. "He was helping me get everything in order for the house. He was so happy. It was one of the happy times of his life."
Someone shot the 24-year-old in Ridley Circle. Newport News police officers found him in the 600 block of 16th Street.
"Father figure. Another figure gone. That's what he was for me," James Matthews said of his older brother. "Something that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, or I wouldn't, at least. Very difficult."
Matthews' sister, Patrice, drove passed the crime scene in 2001, not knowing Matthews was the person who'd been shot.
"He really instilled a lot in my character, just being genuine, so that I miss, because I miss the guidance. I miss him telling me right and wrong, and what to look for an what not," shared Patrice Matthews.
Through the Integrated Homicide Investigative Project of the Newport News Police Department, officers hope to generate leads that could solve the crime. The IHIP taps into investigators who, typically, may not work murders.
"They're called 'cold cases,' because there's no active leads, but they're not forgotten."
Sergeant James Paddleford, who heads the Forensic Services Unit, is handling Matthews' murder. In some instances, the passage of time can help round up witnesses.
"The fear of retaliation might not be as prevalent. They may have, their conscience may be their guide at this point," explained Paddleford. "Try to appeal to them to come forward and share with us what they heard or saw."
Harris is confident police will make an arrest for her son's murder. She has been since the killing in 2001.
The loss prompted Harris to create Mothers Against Violence. The non-profit group advocates for at-risk communities, reunites families, and works to push people towards choices that promote life and living, rather than options that may end them.
"To see a positive impact in their life, it's just, I see my brother in them," Patrice Matthews said. "To me, I'm helping him when I'm helping them."
"His memory still lives, because I still talk to a whole lot of young people, and I still got a lot of young men that I still mentor, talk to, whatever the situation," Harris offered.
Anyone with information about Eric Matthews' murder can contact police anonymously through Crime Line. The number is 1-888-LOCK-U-UP