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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been nearly two decades since 15-year-old Lester Haliburton was murdered, but his family and detectives haven’t given up on trying to find his killer.

Lester was murdered on March 28, 2002. Even with memories fading over the years, family members are hoping that someone will give police new information that could help solve the case.

Lester Haliburton seen here in his soccer uniform

A boy who loved animals 

Growing up, Lester showed a special affection for animals and wanted to be an earth scientist when he got older, according to his mother, Denise Dixon.

“He had a lobster pet. Yes, in a tank,” she laughed.

“He loved dogs. He called every dog a bull mastiff. Every dog was, whether it was or not, he named it that because that was his favorite kind of dog,” she said.

Lester was also ambitious.

“He wanted to be like an like an earth scientist. He loved studying the dirt. He loved studying rocks and he would play with mud.”

Lester Haliburton featured on a set of KCPD playing cards

Robbery gone bad  

Lester Haliburton was shot and killed in an apartment complex at 44th and Tracy that spring day. A friend who was with him was also shot. Detectives believe that robbery was the motive.

“They were trying to get into the apartment complex when they were confronted by two individuals who attempted to rob them. Robbery went bad. Both individuals are shot. Our victim who was a juvenile at the time died at the scene,” said Detective Kevin Boehm with KC Crime Stoppers.

“The second victim was transferred to hospital by a private driver, but unfortunately couldn’t provide much more information.”

It was like a nightmare

Denise was at home, asleep when she woke up to a knock at the door.

“My older kids yelled up the stairs to tell me to come down, that the detectives wanted to talk to me. That’s when they informed us that my son was the person that was in the hallway dead,” she said.

At the time, Denise lived just two doors down from where the shooting happened.

“I just collapsed right there in the middle of the street and the neighbors came out to help me, you know, to get me up out of the street. It was like a nightmare. I didn’t even believe it was real. I didn’t even believe I just was like, Lester? Dead?”

Photos of Lester Haliburton at his family’s home

Cold case

After 17 years, it seems that the case of Lester Haliburton is no closer to being solved.

“Obviously 2002, we’re looking at 17 years ago, roughly,” said Det. Boehm. ” This case is cold at this point, but there’s always hope. Earlier this year we did solve a case that was 11 years old. We’re hoping that somebody remembers this and can come forward with some type of information.”

Both detectives and family members believe that the answers they need will be provided by someone who lived at the apartment complex.

“The door to the actual complex was secured. As the prosecutors and detectives will tell you, you know, it’s always best that they have some type of an eyewitness,” said Det. Boehm.

Denise Dixon says people in the community know more than they are saying.

“The pieces never fit. The story, it just didn’t, it never added up for me,” she said. “Like I said, I always felt that the answer lies right here. I’m hoping that time has been the ultimate healer, as far as allowing the opportunity for people to speak up and say, yes, I know something.”

A photo of Lester Haliburton

A great sense of loss

“I just feel this, a great sense of loss. You know, this was almost 20 years ago,” Denise said. “His murder changed the lives of so many people.”

“When I see how well my other kids are doing, it just reminds he supposed to still be here, he’s not supposed to be gone. He’d be 33 years old now. He would have 21 nieces and nephews,” she said.

“It was just a loss to the world, to the whole world, to me, that’s the way it felt. The whole world. Not only did I lose my son, the whole world lost something.”

Anyone with information in the murder of Lester Haliburton is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477) or the Kansas City Police Department at 816-234-5136. There is a $25,000 reward in the case.