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Grandmother of Youngstown murder victim mourns death of her ‘bestie’

Cold Case

Special Strickland was found dumped in an alley behind a Youngstown church in 2016, but no arrests have been made yet

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Cynthia Boston was her granddaughter’s “bestie.”

It’s been about three years since the death of Boston’s granddaughter, 28-year-old Special Strickland. Boston said her granddaughter lived with her after Strickland’s mother moved out of the area.

“She would call me ‘my bestie,'” Boston said. “She would say, ‘You’re my bestie.'”

Strickland was found shot to death Oct. 21, 2016 in an alley behind a 1413 Belmont Ave. church.

Special Strickland, murdered in Youngstown
Special Strickland

Former Youngstown police detective Lt. Doug Bobovnyik, who retired earlier this year, was the lead investigator on the case. Initially, he said there was not a lot to go on after Strickland was found.

“There was very little physical evidence,” Bobovnyik said.

A shell casing was found at the scene, and investigators learned that Strickland had been a drug user and had a troubled past. That gave them a direction to look for suspects, and Bobovnyik said he was able to narrow it down to one.

Detectives served a search warrant at the suspect’s home and found a gun, but the gun they found did not match the shell casing found at the scene, Bobovnyik said.

In the end, the suspect was charged with an unrelated gun offense based on the search warrant. There was never enough to charge him with Strickland’s murder, Bobovnyik said.

“We just couldn’t quite make the case,” Bobovnyik said.

Surrounded by pictures of her children and grandchildren while speaking recently from the living room of her East Side home, Boston acknowledged that Strickland had a drug problem, but that did not change the love she still has for her.

“She just made several really bad choices,” Boston said.

No matter how hard it got, Boston said her home was always open to her granddaughter.

“She always came back,” Boston said. “She always knew she could come home.”

“She did nothing that deserves being killed like that.”

One fear of Boston’s was that something would happen to her granddaughter because of the lifestyle she led and she would never be found. She said as strange as it sounds, she was grateful that at least she was found.

“That was always a prayer of mine: ‘Please don’t let my child be where I can’t find her,'” Boston said.

In the years after, Boston said she misses her granddaughter, but the pain has gotten more manageable since her death. For awhile after Special’s death, however, Boston said she kept everything low key because she did not want to upset her children more than they already were.

“It took a while for me to even speak because I didn’t want my children to get upset,” Boston said.

Boston said she had not seen Strickland for a few days before she was killed, but she added that was not unusual. She said she was at work when she found out Special was dead.

She harbors no hatred for the person who took Special’s life, but Boston said they still must be held accountable.

“I often pray about that,” Boston said. “I don’t hate them. I really don’t. But I’d like for them to be caught.

“There’s no reason for that to happen.”

Anyone with information on the case can contact the Detective Bureau at 330-742-8911.

This story is part of a series of cold cases that WKBN is examining.

Do you have a cold case that you’d like us to look into further? Submit a cold case to WKBN.

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