BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – For eight years, Tonya Patterson has searched for answers in her daughter’s killing.
“My daughter was a very friendly, happy person. She was a mom. She became a mom young, but when she passed away at 22 years old, her daughter was only five,” Patterson said.
Wednesday marks the eight-year anniversary of Te’Aira Earvin’s murder, when she was found dead in New Jersey after a trip.
Tonya believes her daughter’s death was a result of an older man.
“She started dating a guy that was into the drug game and things like that, and it just turned her life around,” she said.
Te’Aira had been dating a man named Vincent Moorer, a big player in a major drug ring that was being investigated in Youngstown on counts of murder, felonious assault and state racketeering charges.
Patterson feels Te’Aira was killed because she knew too much, and some might have feared she could testify in court.
“I was getting calls from attorneys and people that were wrapping up and getting other people saying that they just wanna talk to her and get to her before someone tries to kill her or hurt her,” Patterson said.
Patterson says she doesn’t know exactly who pulled the trigger that killed her daughter, but she does have some details leading up to it.
Te’Aira was visiting Moorer in Atlanta, Georgia. Eventually, she left with two other people, a man and woman. They traveled by car from Atlanta to New York City and then to Riverton, New Jersey where her body would be found on October 13, 2013.
“Shot her in the back of the head, three times, execution-style,” she said.
That was just three days before she was scheduled to appear in a local court for an arraignment on a drug possession charge.
Patterson said surveillance video showed Moorer in Atlanta at the time of Te’Aira’s murder, so she doesn’t believe he is the one who actually shot her daughter. Still, at the time, a case was being built against Moorer with information from the Violent Crimes Task Force and Drug Task Force.
Moorer was convicted and sentenced to two life prison terms, plus 70 additional years, but he was never charged in Te’Aira’s death. Neither were the two people who were in the car with her when she was killed.
“A lot of these people that were put away were put away for other people’s murders. But no one, I know that this was the gang, and I know the players involved, but I don’t know which one actually killed my daughter,” she said.
Te’Aira was a good person, raised in church, a wonderful mom, who just got caught up with the wrong people, her mom said. Now, she just wants closure.
“As a parent, I just feel like it’s unfair for any parent to have to live their life without knowing,” she said.
“That is my biggest hope, that someone wants to tell me what happened. I haven’t even thought as far as what their sentence would be or something like that. Well yes, I wanna know, and yes, I want justice for my daughter, but I think I really want more than anything for someone to say something,” she said.
Patterson asks anyone who may have any information to come forward to help bring her, and Te’Aira’s daughter, some type of closure.
Those with information on the case can reach out to Detective Steve Craig at 609-265-5878 and Detective John Thompson at 609-668-4111 in New Jersey, or Sgt. Glenn Patton in Boardman at 330-726-4177.
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.