Tiana Melvin smiled and laughed with family members Tuesday as she recalled fond memories of her 16-year-old son, Konye, who was one of three from the Melvin family killed in two separate shooting incidents in the same week in September.
"I guess I got to smile to keep moving," Tiana said. "It's God, it's definitely God, it's not me, because I'm broken."
Three killed in September
Konye was shot to death alongside his cousin, 19-year-old Marquez Melvin, in a home invasion Sept. 22. in the 1100 block of Charlie Drive.
Marquez's half brother, Maurice Melvin Jr., was also shot during the attack and survived, Tiana Melvin said.
"They were siblings, basically," she said about the tight relationship between Konye and his cousins. Marquez and Maurice are the sons of Tiana's brother, Maurice Melvin Sr. "Especially Konye and Marquez — they were inseparable."
A fourth person was injured during the attack, but, according to Tiana, investigators have been unable to find him. She said she doesn't know who the person is, but it was his house where the attack took place.
According to Tiana, Marquez was shot twice in the face and Konye was shot three times.
"It felt personal," Tiana's sister, Alicia Sanders, said.
"It was very personal," Tiana added. "They've just got to be a heartless person to look my baby in his face and kill him."
No arrests have been made in the Charlie Drive shooting.
The family said the three teens were spending time together in the wake of the slaying of Marquez's sister and Maurice Melvin Sr.'s daughter, 21-year-old Nicoda Melvin, who was shot and killed at her Southern Ave. home on Sept. 18.
Nicoda's boyfriend, Travis Edward Jefferson, 27, is charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in Nicoda's killing.
'We're not giving up'
More than two months after the killings, the Melvin family is still searching for answers.
According to Sanders, the family wants to keep the memories of their loved ones alive, and they are intent on seeing justice.
"We're not going to stop," she said. "We're going to keep searching; we're not giving up."
Tiana and her sister both believe there are people who know what happened the night Konye and Marquez were killed but refuse to come forward.
"I feel like they were set up; honestly, I do," Tiana said. "I could be wrong, but that's just what my heart (says)."
The sisters speculated that the fourth person present the night of the attack knows the answers to their questions, but they said detectives have not been able to find him.
Tiana said that Maurice, who survived the attack and is still recovering from his injuries, is scared to speak up about the shooting and is afraid he could be targeted again.
Despite the silence from those who may have information, Tiana has hope that her son's killer will be brought to justice.
"Somebody needs to come forward," she said. "And they will, they will, I know they will. My pastor preached about it, and they will. We will have justice."
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Lt. Patrice Bogertey said Wednesday that detectives are still investigating the Charlie Drive attack. She echoed Tiana's plea for anyone with information to come forward.
"Somebody knows something," Bogertey said. "We can't solve crimes without the help of the public, so they need to do the right thing and come forward."
Konye's friends and family remember him as a smart, kind and athletic young man.
"He was very respectful and very loving. His smile could light up a room," Tiana said. "If you knew Konye, you would love him, I can't imagine anybody hating him ... I called him my sunshine, my golden child."
He attended Cape Fear High School and Gray's Creek High School before graduating with honors at 16 years old from Tarheel Challenge Academy in May, his mother said.
"When he put his mind to something, he was going to do it," she said.
Konye would have turned 17 on Nov. 3.
Tiana said that Konye lived in Fayetteville his whole life and was raised with his three siblings. Konye was the second oldest of the four, who range in age from 9 to 23.
She said that she always thought he would become a professional basketball player.
"He was very, very athletic," she said. "On that court, he just had a love for basketball."
Aside from his academic and athletic accolades, Konye is remembered by his loved ones as a respectful son and a loving boyfriend.
Konye's girlfriend of about a year, Laycee Maynard, describes him as a caring person, remembering fondly their prom dates and his graduation.
She said some of her favorite memories with him, though, were just riding in the car and listening to music, saying that she just always enjoyed his company.
Maynard said that she met Konye in August 2019 when he asked if he could mow her lawn. After that, they became close friends, began riding the school bus together and in April 2020, they started dating.
As Maynard and Tiana looked through prom pictures Tuesday, they laughed reminiscing on Konye's life and what they described as his magnetic and exciting personality.
"People that knew him knew he was special," Tiana said. "Anywhere he went, he lit up the room.
"I just don't want his name to be in vain. He's not forgotten about."
Tiana and her sister both stressed that Konye was never in any serious trouble and that they don't want him to be remembered as anything but a kind young man.
"He's not one of them," Sanders said. "He doesn't have a record, he's not out there committing crimes."
As the Melvin family continues to search for answers not only for Konye but for Marquez, Nicoda and Maurice, as well, they are pleading with the community to show compassion and help them bring their family's killers to justice.
Sanders said that she hopes her family can soon find peace, and that they will always remember their slain family members fondly.
"These were children. They were loved," she said.
Anyone with information regarding the Charlie Drive investigation is asked to call Senior Sergeant R. Quick at 910-677-5503 or Crimestoppers at 910-483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet, or by downloading the FREE “P3 Tips” app available on your device's app store.
Crime Reporter Jack Boden can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jackboden5.
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This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Melvin family searches for justice after death of three family members