YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — When A’Ja Chambers was told her father was dead, she could not believe it.
She was just 12, a student in the Liberty School District, and she had just gotten home from school on March 26, 2009, and headed straight for a nap.
Her father, Marvin Chambers, 33, had been missing for a couple of days, but she was still stunned when she was awakened to learn her father had died.
“I was very confused and disoriented,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was just very hard.”
Now 26 and working for the Southwoods Medical Complex, A’Ja said she had a sleepless night recently and began researching her father’s case in earnest, looking for some answers.
Marvin’s girlfriend had reported him missing the day before he was found shot to death with a gunshot wound to the stomach in a pavilion at Nick Johnson Park on the East Side. Police were never able to make an arrest in the case.
A’Ja is the middle child of three sisters. She would spend summers with her father growing up, summers known for the scrumptious meals he would prepare.
“That man was a grill master,” she said. “He loved to cook.”
Especially good, she said, were the ribs he prepared and the sauce he used.
Her father was a big San Francisco 49ers and Boston Celtics fan who once took a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers so hard that he decided to play them on the NBA 2K video game as the Celtics until he could beat them, A’Ja said with a laugh.
Marvin, an East High School graduate, was a funny person who was also into music and ran a dog training business with her uncle, A’Ja said.
“If you needed something, he would be there for you,” A’Ja said.
Newspaper reports at the time said police found an abandoned car on nearby Miltonia Avenue and checked the area, including the park, for signs of anyone but did not see anything. When officers ran the registration on the car, it came back to a woman who turned out to be Marvin’s girlfriend. She was also the person who reported him missing.
Police went back to the park, searched some more and found Chambers in the pavilion.
A’Ja said she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at a young age because of her father’s death, maladies she still battles today.
Recently, she went back to the site of her father’s murder because her nephew had a football game there. She said she had never been to the park since her father’s death, but she fought through the anxiety because she wanted to support her nephew.
“It was all I could do to go to that park,” A’Ja said.
Anyone with information on the March 26, 2009, shooting death of Marvin Chambers can call the Youngstown Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-742-8911, CrimeStoppers Youngstown at 330-746-CLUE or 911.