Joyce McKinnon had just gotten home from work Dec. 11, 2009, when she settled down to watch television.
Instead, someone shot her through the window of her Venice Park home, and fled.
Ten years later, McKinnon’s killing remains unsolved.
“We know that there are people out there that know the circumstances of how this incident occurred,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said Wednesday, as he stood across the street from McKinnon’s North Michigan Avenue home. “We’re calling on everyone in our community to have a conscience, to stand up, to do the right thing and offer us assistance … in solving this murder and giving this family the closure they so richly deserve.”
When a person is home, “that is your sanctuary,” Tyner said.
McKinnon’s safety was broken.
Now the prosecutor hopes someone will come forward.
Three days before McKinnon was killed, 19-year-old Jamal Smith was fatally shot at a party in Pleasantville’s Sassafras Run apartments.
Sellers Ingram is currently serving a 50-year sentence for that murder. He also had dated McKinnon’s daughter.
“We had broken up,” Veronica Grant said of Ingram.
But it’s not clear that the streets knew the two were no longer together.
The day before McKinnon was killed, Ingram was arrested for Smith’s killing.
Tyner mentioned a homicide around the same time as McKinnon’s, although he did not mention it by name. He stopped short of calling it retribution, saying he wanted to focus on finding who killed the 61-year-old grandmother in her bed.
Tyner and his brother, Michael Graham, grew up with the family. Graham worked homicides as an Atlantic City police detective assigned to the Major Crimes Unit in 2009.
He was the one who accompanied Grant to the Atlantic County jail, where he questioned Ingram.
Graham also had eaten many dinners with the family growing up.
“He said, ‘I’m going to solve this if it’s the last thing I do,’” Grant told BreakingAC as she sat inside the home where her mother was killed a decade ago.
Some wonder why she stayed in the house. But for her, it’s where she still feels her mother.
‘This is my sanctuary. This is my therapy,’ Veronica Grant says of her mother’s home.
“This is my sanctuary,” Grant said. “This is my therapy.”
Her therapy also is making sure her mother’s name lives on.
The street outside the house was renamed Joyce J. McKinnon Place on Oct. 30, 2010.
Grant is also in the process of creating the Joyce J. McKinnon Transitional Home, which she sees as a place for troubled kids to go for a second chance.
The ages would be 11 to 17, but she said she is thinking of going younger after the death of 10-year-old Micah Tennant.
“We’ve just got to do better,” she said.
Her mother’s home was always the place anyone was welcome, whether for a meal or just a place to stay.
“I had a good life growing up,” she said. “I’m so proud that I am her daughter.”
McKinnon had seven grandchildren when she died. Now, there are 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Grant’s grandson was born two days before the first anniversary of her mother’s death. He turned 9 on Monday.
He is one of the seven children who will know McKinnon only through family stories and pictures.
“I don’t think people understand what you go through when they pull the trigger,” Grant said. “We’re all impacted by it. All of us.”
Northfield Councilwoman Susan Korngut has been helping McKinnon, and announced Wednesday that she is putting up a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case.
“I hope other people will join with me,” she said.
Grant said she just wants to be able to look the person who killed her mother in the eye and ask one question: “Why?”
Anyone who has information about McKinnon’s killing is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.