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Relatives hope Cleveland Cavaliers ‘reward will lead to answers to Ericka Weems’ murder six months after she was shot at the Ohio home

Ericka Weems was the complete package. She had beauty, brains and talent. She was fun and outgoing, and she loved to sing and dance, it makes sense that she was a cheerleader when she was younger. But that’s not all. Ericka also had basketball skills.

According to her father, Darrell Weems, when Ericka and her siblings were growing up, everyone in the house was scrambling to get to a basketball tournament or was busy studying for an exam.

Ericka Weems

“All of my kids were on the Honor Roll,” Darrell told Dateline. “They graduated at the top of their class.”

Ericka was the middle child of two siblings, an older sister, Shermaine Weems-Reed, and a younger brother, Brandon Weems. Her mother was a family doctor and her father worked in a local factory. Shermaine told Dateline that when they were kids Ericka could be the pesky little sister, but as they get older nothing can keep them apart.

“Ericka was my best friend,” Shermaine said. “I spoke to him every day. Sometimes 10 times a day. “

Ericka graduated in 2006 from Ohio State University with a degree in human development and family science. She received her Masters in Teaching in 2007. It was around this time that Ericka opened Recess Child Development Center, a daycare center in Columbus, Ohio.

Her father Darrell told Dateline that Ericka has always had a love for children and children really love her back.

“I used to call her when she was babysitting and she would say, ‘Daddy, you always call when I put the kids to sleep,’” he said.

Over six months ago, Ericka, 37, was living her life to the fullest. She returned to her hometown of Akron to be closer to her family. She was working on opening her second daycare there. All she needed now was the building. In the meantime, she has run the daycare away from home.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Ericka to close her original daycare in Columbus, but friends say she was relieved to focus on this new chapter in her life.

“Ericka was in the happiest place I think I’ve ever seen her,” Ericka’s friend Christian Ball told Dateline.

Christian told Dateline that Ericka was thrilled that she finally paid off her credit card debt, that her house was almost paid off, and that she had recently chosen a building for her daycare.

Ericka was also known to be very involved in her community in Akron. She even helped found an organization called the Young Black Professionals Coalition, which offers scholarships to high school students as well as mentorship programs for young adults.

“She was just amazing,” added Shermaine.

Ericka was known to her family and friends for being caring and reliable. So when no one could contact her on November 2, 2020, the day she was supposed to babysit for a friend, her relatives started to worry.

“I just knew it wasn’t like Ericka not picking up her phone,” Sister Shermaine told Dateline.

Shermaine and her husband John Reed drove to Ericka’s home on Hardesty Boulevard to see her. When they arrived, the back door was open. They went inside and discovered a horrific scene. Ericka had died from an apparent gunshot wound, Akron police would later report. The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office said in November that his death was under investigation as a homicide.

It was clear to those close to her, Ericka had been murdered. What wasn’t clear to anyone who knew Ericka was who might have wanted to hurt her.

“She was so unproblematic that it absolutely makes no sense,” Ericka’s friend Christian told Dateline.

For family and friends, it was hard to believe this could be a random crime, but it’s even harder to imagine someone they know wanting Ericka dead. When Darrell heard the news of his daughter’s death, he was heartbroken.

“It was terrible,” he told Dateline. “I couldn’t believe it. Who would want to hurt him?

Darrell remembers spending time with Ericka on Halloween night when they watched The Ohio State play together at Penn State. Darrell told Dateline that Ericka got a phone call and she told him she was leaving to meet a friend. He said he looks back on that night and wonders if things would have been any different if he had asked more questions.

“I would have liked to squeeze her more,” Darrell told Dateline. “But she’s grown up, so you can’t blame yourself.” But I blame myself.

That night was the last time he saw his daughter alive.

Ericka’s sister Shermaine told Dateline she was concerned when she later learned of one of the last text messages Ericka sent before her death. Shermaine said the text read: “I opened the door to a stranger in my briefcase because I thought it was you lol.

When Shermaine learned of this message, she thought it was strange that her sister had never told her about this unusual encounter.

“It’s strange she doesn’t tell me about it,” Shermaine said.

The text message began to raise more questions for the Weems family, who told Dateline the information had been provided to police for the investigation.

“Why has someone just knocked on your door and it’s a stranger,” Shermaine added.

Six months have passed, but the wounds of Ericka’s death are still fresh for the Weems family. Added to this pain is the fear that Ericka’s case will not be resolved. Shermaine told Dateline she was frustrated and confused by what she said was a lack of communication between law enforcement and family throughout this investigation.

“She won’t be thrown under the bus,” Shermaine said. “I know there are a lot of murders in Akron, but she didn’t deserve this.

Shermaine told Dateline that she felt like she was forced to play the role of detective in the murder case of her own sister. Replay the day she and her husband discovered Ericka’s body and think through the smallest details in search of anything that can lead to Ericka’s murderer.

“It’s not about to be just like, ‘Oh, that was another black girl murdered in her house,’” Shermaine said. “You violated her privacy and then you murdered her. It’s too much for me. This is not OK.

Lt. Michael Miller, Police Information Officer for the Akron Police Department, made this statement to Dateline regarding the Ericka murder investigation:

“The Weems investigation is still ongoing and active. Investigators work diligently to identify the suspect (s) involved. Detectives have and will continue to pursue all credible leads. Each survey has its own challenges, some unique to the particular survey. Although the incident happened months ago, we are committed to resolving the case. “

In November, NBA star LeBron James launched a public appeal for information on the case. James is childhood friends with Ericka’s brother Brandon, who is the scouting director for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He tweeted: “AKRON OHIO !! My brother’s sister was murdered last weekend at her home! My brother family needs answers to know why and by whom. My city, I need you to go to work and find out who did this horrible, shameful, disgusting thing to such a caring and loving angel!

The Cleveland Cavaliers are offering a reward of up to $ 10,000 to anyone with information leading to the identification, arrest and indictment of the person (s) responsible for the shooting death of Ericka Weems. An additional reward of up to $ 5,000 is also offered by the Summit County Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Akron Police Department at 330-374-2490. Callers can remain anonymous.

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