Police seek public’s help to solve murder case 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

When Tyrone Sumlin left this earth September 14, 2017, he knew one thing for sure.

“He knew his mama loved him,” said Ruthie Sumlin, Tyrone’s mother. “We’d talked that day on the phone – it was about 5:54 in the afternoon – that was the last thing I said to him. ‘Son, I love you.’ He said, ‘Mama, I love you, too.’”

And it was the last time Ms. Sumlin heard her 33-year-old son’s voice. His body was discovered in the front yard of a Quarles Street residence later that night. He had been shot in the back of the head with a .380 caliber handgun. Neighbors said they heard what they believed was a gunshot around 9 p.m.

“I got the call around 11:30 that night,” Ms. Sumlin said. “We thought he’d been taken to the hospital, but he wasn’t there. When we got to the place where he was, I knew he was dead. I could see his feet on the ground over by his vehicle. It just upset me so much to know he’d just been there all this time, and I didn’t know it.”

A task force headed by Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper has been assembled to reopen the unsolved murder case.

Minden Police detectives, investigators with the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Jason Parker have joined forces to reopen the unsolved murder case from 2017 in hopes someone will come forward with information.

“If you or someone you know has information on this case, please come forward for the sake of his family, specifically his mother Ms Ruthie Sumlin,” Cropper said. “Remember, your information is very important and you can remain anonymous.”

Tyrone’s mother believes someone knows what happened because her son knew so many people.

“He made a friend anywhere he went,” she said. “He was an athlete – he played all kinds of sports, but he also coached kids in sports.”

Ms. Sumlin said Cropper and Minden Police detectives have worked hard to solve the case.

“Shane (Griffith) has really worked hard on it,” she said. “He and the chief call and check on me a lot.”

Griffith said he will never give up looking for Tyrone’s killer.

“Every detective has one case that keeps them awake at night. For me it’s the Sumlin homicide,” Griffith said. “I have a personal relationship with the family as I coached Ty and his brother in baseball. I will never stop being Ty’s voice. I’ll never stop investigating this case until the cowards that committed this crime are brought to justice. I’ll never quit.” 

Ms. Sumlin said her one hope is that she will find out who shot her son.

“I don’t even have to know why,” she said. “I just want to know who.”

Cropper, who plans to retire at the end of the year, said this is the police department’s only unsolved homicide.

“I promised Ms. Ruthie I would get it solved before I left,” Cropper said. “And we’ve never really dropped it. Somebody out there knows something. I hope enough time has gone by now that they will speak up.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Minden Police Department at 318-371-4226 and ask for an investigator.

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