Warren police seeking answers in New Year’s Day ’13 killing

Cold Case

Police said while there were hundreds of people inside the old Sunrise Lounge where the shooting occurred, none helped them solve Cory Blackwell's murder

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — Cory Blackwell was celebrating the new year when he was murdered in front of hundreds of people early on New Year’s Day, 2013.

But none of those hundreds of people have helped police in trying to solve his death.

Blackwell, 25, was shot to death on the sidewalk in front of the former Sunset Lounge at East Market Street and Elm Road. His murder is one of two unsolved homicides Detective Wayne Mackey submitted to the unsolved homicide database at the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“You would think it would make it easier because of all these people around him and a lot of witnesses,” Mackey said. “In this case, we had a lot of witnesses but no one came forward.”

Blackwell was one of the hundreds of people inside who said goodbye to 2012 inside the bar and was ushering in 2013 when a fight broke out inside and shots were fired.

He ran outside where he was shot on the sidewalk.

There was video in the bar, which is now a church, but it is of poor quality. There is a suspect who was photographed inside the bar with a gun in his hand, but he was only charged with a weapons violation because no one came forward to help detectives, Mackey said.

Confounding things are two different theories of the crime from some of the few people who would speak to investigators, Mackey said.

“We were told he wasn’t the intended target. Then we were told that he was,” Mackey said.

Whatever theory is correct, Mackey said that does not excuse murdering someone, especially someone who was unarmed, as Blackwell. He seemed, from all accounts, to be minding his own business.

Mackey said investigators are unsure if Blackwell was involved in the fight inside that led to the gunfire that emptied the bar out.

“Obviously, there was a dispute among somebody,” Mackey said.

Mackey said he reviews the case once a year and is hopeful because of the rapid advances of technology for analyzing evidence. Police did collect some shell casings at the scene.

What is also frustrating is that security was working the door of the club that night checking for weapons, and several people who were armed still managed to get inside, Mackey said.

Mackey said the two cases he submitted to BCI — those off Blackwell and Cory Mitchell, who was found shot and killed in July of 2017 in a Burton Street SE yard — are polar opposites, but there are good reasons for submitting both.

In the Mitchell case, there is hardly any evidence and Mackey said he hoped by posting the case on the BCI website, he can generate interest that could lead to a tip.

For the Blackwell case, Mackey said he has a lot of evidence and is hoping that the interest generated from submitting the case could lead one or several of those several people who were ringing in the New Year that morning to contact him.

Mackey said he also wants people to know that they might get away with something in the short term, but investigators never forget and are always looking at ways to restart a cold case.

“They need to know it never goes away,” Mackey said.

Anyone with information can call Mackey at 330-841-2684.

WKBN covered this crime in 2013. You can see that report in the video above.

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

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