Daughters mourned Homicides: The two young women were entering adulthood, looking forward to raising their children, working, when they were killed in a double shooting.

August 09, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Donna Marie Webster will never forget that night a month ago. She was walking to her daughter's Reservoir Hill apartment when a city policeman passed by, weeping.

Webster, 41, asked him why.

"Because I knew La-Shawn," he answered. "That's why I'm so sad."

That was how Webster learned her daughter, La-Shawn Nicole Jordan, 22, was one of the victims in a double homicide. The deaths occurred during a particularly violent 10 days in July when nine of the city's 187 murder victims this year were killed.

Police found Jordan and another woman, Kelly Marie Bunn, 21, shot dead in Jordan's apartment on the 700 block of Lennox St. after responding to a neighbor's 911 call.

City detectives found the circumstances unusually tragic.

Unlike so many murders in the city, and Jordan and Bunn's deaths had nothing to do with drugs, police said. Though their investigation is heading toward identification of a possible suspect or suspects, police declined to discuss a motive.

While they await closure of the case, the victims' mothers are numb, cherishing pictures and memories of the children they raised.

Authorities believe the two young women, who had been friends for a couple of years, had been killed several hours before police and firefighters broke down the apartment door and discovered the bodies about midnight July 11. Jordan's two children -- Jewel, 4, and her brother, Kendall, 1 -- were in a nearby room.

Jewel's play doctor kit was discovered near her mother's body, police said, as if she had tried to revive her mother or listen for her heartbeat. The child was interviewed by police as a possible witness, Webster said.

Willing to trust others

The mothers -- Webster of Pikesville and Sharon Thomas of Essex -- said they miss their daughters, maturing just as their lives were snatched away. Both victims were born and schooled in Baltimore and just beginning to make their way in the adult world. Their mothers described them as outspoken young women willing to believe the best about others.

Both were employed as caregivers. Jordan was raising two small children, and Bunn was three months pregnant. The victims were both close to their grandmothers. They both loved Maya Angelou's books ("I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was found by Jordan's bed after her death). And both left a church full of grieving family and friends at their funerals.

Both mothers last saw their daughters at Fourth of July family gatherings.

Prayer answered

Jordan's son, Kendall, had his first birthday that day. She had planned to celebrate with a small picnic in Gwynns Falls Park, but the occasion grew into an informal family reunion with about 50 relatives.

Teasing her daughter about elaborate arrangements and her fussing over the details, Webster had told her, "Shawn, you act like this is the last birthday party you're going to give."

The two had stayed up until 4 that morning preparing food. And when it looked as if it might rain during the picnic, Webster advised her fretful daughter to say a prayer: God "will listen to you," she said.

L The drizzle ended, and her daughter said, "Ma, he heard me!"

Webster recalled one of their last conversations, when Jordan told her something almost foreboding: "I appreciate everything you did, and I hear everything you say."

At least, Webster said, "she lived long enough to see [Kendall] walk."

The last night Jordan slept in her mother's yellow house, Webster said, she thought Jordan looked rested and peaceful -- and wished she could keep her that way.

Jordan had just won a promotion at her workplace, Progressive Horizons Mental Health Care Center in Woodlawn, her mother said, with medical benefits for herself and her children.

In the previous six months, Webster said, her daughter was becoming a more responsible and self-confident woman.

"It was everything she wanted, to be independent," said Webster. When she was told Jordan hadn't showed up for work, she knew something was wrong.

"I feel like the phone will ring, and she's going to say, 'Ma, could you pick me up from work?' "

Webster goes about her daily business running a small day care center and her expanded household -- with grandchildren Jewel and Kendall. "In the night, when everything's quiet, that's when [the loss] hits me," she said.

Lighting up a room

A few miles away, Thomas is grappling with the same kind of grief after burying her oldest child and only daughter. The mothers met for the first time days ago.

Bunn's "smile would light up a room," said Thomas, looking at a second-grade picture of her daughter with three red ribbons in her hair. "She's too much alive to be gone."

Bunn made her presence known wherever she went, her mother and her stepfather, Anthony Thomas, said. When she left messages on her mother's pager, she always signed off with "No. 1."

"Why?" Thomas once asked her.

The irrepressible Bunn said, "Because I'm the No. 1 person in your life. You just haven't figured it out yet."

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