Families of Violent Crime Victims Open Up About Daily Struggle

Ricky Morris

Marlon McClendon

When Marlon McClendon was gunned down in Savannah, detectives met his family at the hospital; that was in October 2014.

Marlon McClendon was shot on October 15, 2014, his murder has yet to be solved.

More than a year later his brother Bonis Sprivey tells News 3 that first time, was the last time. He said he has called police and visited the department repeatedly and gets nothing.

What he’s most afraid of is that Marlon’s case is all but forgotten, and he just can’t let that happen.

“From what I understand he had just left the cemetery from visiting my mother cause that was her birthday,” said Bonis. “It’s just like a lot of stories and I just want someone to come out and tell the truth about what happened to him.”

Nine years older than his brother, Bonis feels he let Marlon down by not being there to protect him, and now he feels unsafe himself.

“It’s been hard because I’m constantly looking over my shoulder because I don’t know who did it, why they did it so I’m just kind of watching over my shoulder.”

Metro Police released this statement to us on the case:

Mr. McClendon’s case is still active and on-going. Although violent crimes detectives do not routinely give updates regarding ongoing investigations, we are always available if the family has questions. If someone is not getting satisfactory answers from an officer or detective, he or she should ask for a sergeant or lieutenant to address concerns.

But Bonis’ feelings of being forgotten are ones felt by many families who have lost loved ones to violent crime in Savannah; like the family of Ricardo “Ricky” Morris, who was killed in July 2015.

They’re full of questions but short on answers, and yet they’re forced to move on with their lives, always wondering, “why?”

Ricky Morris was killed in July 2015, his murderer has not been caught.
Ricky Morris was killed in July 2015, his murderer has not been caught.

“I never thought it would happen to me,” said Ricky’s mother Brenda Johnson-Curtis. “The way that my sons were raised, the kind of gentlemen that I raised them to be, the kind of men that they are to this day.”

In the seven months since her son’s passing, Brenda and her husband have had to help raise Ricky’s seven children, with the help of his brothers.

Alejandro Johnson, Ricky’s youngest brother, tells us the role comes with big shoes to fill.

“Rick was like the best father, period,” said Johnson. “If he wasn’t working he was with his kids. If he wasn’t with them, he was at work. If he wasn’t at work or with his kids, he was asleep!”

Ricky’s two oldest children, Daquan and Tarshay are graduating high school later this year. Both plan to go to college and Tarshay is even graduating with honors, but she said nothing comes easily anymore.

“It’s not just hard living without him it’s hard living period because my dad being the kind of man he was it makes you wonder about who you can and can’t trust,” said Tarshay. “He was a very loving person and that’s not a crime that can be justified by anything.”

Daquan, or Quan for short, is a member of the Royal Ambassadors, a prayer dance group that Ricky used to help choreograph.

Many of the young men in the group are fatherless, a role Ricky filled for many of them.

“[He] helped me a lot with discipline,” said Ty Hoffman. “My mom, she’d always tell me ‘I can teach you anything in the world but I can’t teach you how to be a man,’ and that’s the only thing, I think that’s the thing I was looking for and after I found Rick, that’s what he was helping me do.”

“Rick was our big brother to all of us, just an inspiration,” added Jamell Brown. “He was a hard working man too so that made me want to go harder as a young man.”

“Everything we do we do in the name of him and the name of God,” explains Quan. “When he said ‘go hard’ he meant go hard at dancing, at school, anything you do go hard at it.”

The group still meets and still dances, but now Alejandro choreographs the young men without his brother.

“Nobody knows the void that’s left until it happens to them nobody knows the pain that your mother feels, the kids, other siblings,” said Alejnadro. “Nobody knows until it happens to them.”

Ricky Morris' grave.
Ricky Morris’ grave.

In a sense, Ricky’s family considers themselves lucky. They’ve always been close and this has just brought them closer.

So they’ll continue to support each other for another day, and then another, and then another, trying to live each one with Ricky in their hearts, but still one unfulfilled wish on their minds: to catch his murderer.

“They can still carry on with their family, they can still go and see their daughter,” Brenda said about her son’s killer. “My grandchildren, my husband, my son, my daughter, my nieces and nephew go to a cold grave and it’s not fair.”

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