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Crime Stoppers of WNY uses murder victims' pictures on billboards

The mothers of the victims submitted pictures, seeking information. It's a more personal approach in an attempt to help solve some of these murders.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This year we have been plagued by violence which has taken too many lives, especially on the streets of Buffalo.

That's why a new campaign has been launched to bring us a more personal dimension to help solve some of these murders. As you travel Buffalo streets or highways, you may only have a passing thought about the personal impact of violent crime on family members of the victims.

But they and Crime Stoppers of WNY hope to make a direct connection with the community to find their killers or other violent criminals with billboards going up at 10 different locations through the end of September.

And if you look at the bottom, you will see the faces and the names of eight murder victims from these still open cases. 

Some of their mothers stepped forward Thursday to speak about the pain, the impact on their lives, and their enduring hope that somebody will offer up an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers through the Buffalo Tips App or their phone number at 867-6161. 

Gayla Ross, who lost her son, Amir James, said, "They took the most important thing of my entire life away from me. Whoever you are, you don't know what you've done to me, and my family, and all the rest of the families that are standing here."

Markeita Bennett, whose son, Rene-Cameren Tucker, was killed, said, "It's so painful because as the family, we are driving down these streets. Seeing our loved ones faces in the sky, and it's just so unbearable because they are up there for all the wrong reasons."

Then Robyn Gerow, who also lost her son, Marcus Spain, pointed out, "Law enforcement cannot solve on their own without help from the community if they don't have a witness, if they don't have a murder weapon, and if they don't have a confession. We need people to come forward and to let people know what they know, whether it's impossible to solve these cases."

Finally, we heard from Torino Bigham, who lost her son, Lorenzo Jones III, in a shooting in March. She said, "I stand here as a grieving mother, pleading for witnesses to come forward.

"The Crime Stoppers line is anonymous and so is the reward. God forbid one day your loved one, this happens to them. and you're standing here in my same spot. You will want the community to help bring justice and have it be served."

We were told that through local government officials and law enforcement they have raised over $100,000 for this effort, which will have billboards at 10 different sites through the end of September. 

Crime Stoppers of Western New York says that this first billboard has already generated anonymous tips which can pay up to $7,500 for information on homicides, shootings, or use of an illegal gun.