YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – One year later, and police are still seeking answers in a double homicide where the victims have an age difference of 30 years and were killed several blocks away from each other.
What detectives know, or do not know, is still being held close to the vest as the investigations into the deaths of Persayus Davis-May, 10, and Michael Callahan, 40, continue. Both were killed about 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2021.
Davis-May was killed in her 619 Samuel Ave. home in a shooting that wounded three other people. Callahan was killed after he was shot in the truck he was driving on Gibson Street that crashed into a sign on Palmer Avenue. A passenger in his truck was wounded.
The two crime scenes are 1.3 miles apart, according to Google maps, and they also have two different lead detectives.
On Thursday, a crowd of about 50 people gathered at the home of Davis-May to watch as the city posted street signs renaming the street “Persayus Way,” in her honor. The signs were arranged by city council member Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward.
Utility poles on the street are festooned with pictures of Davis-May in dresses and tiaras. A makeshift basketball court in front of her house has been dubbed “The Persayus May Memorial Court.”
“Let this be an example to the community of how we respond to tragedies in the community, let us come together,” said Tayana Smith, Davis-May’s godmother.
The event was also organized by the Millionaire Corp. and CEO Million Perry, who is also president of the Persayus May Project, an organization geared toward helping her family and other families who have lost a child due to gun violence.
“The whole project is to reduce gun violence, violence in general, do some cleanup in the city, just peace,” Perry said.
Perry came up with the idea for the street signs back in February. He then got city officials on board.
“She’s always here and she has a legacy now to be able to let other people know that life is precious. Life is valuable and it could be gone at any second so don’t take it for granted,” Oliver said.
Derrick McDowell, a community member, says it’s important to recognize the tragedy that brought them there and to give honor to that moment.
“On this anniversary, her life represents our coming together, but we have to understand we can’t come together under these circumstances without a result of justice,” McDowell said.
Police will not say how the two deaths are linked and they have released almost no information on the case. Even the coroner’s reports for the two victims have yet to be filed in the Mahoning County Clerk Of Courts Office.
Detective Sgt. David Sweeney, who is the lead investigator on the Davis-May shooting, said investigators have received tips but he termed the volume as “sporadic.” Still, he said, every tip has been checked out.
“We’re at the same place we were at this time last year,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney and the investigator working the Callahan shooting, Detective Sgt. Chad Zubal, would not say if more than one shooter or more than one weapon was involved. They also would not say which shooting took place first.
City 911 recordings show calls for the shooting on Palmer Avenue came in a couple of minutes before the calls on Samuel Avenue.
Sweeney said the big thing investigators need is a witness who can tell them what happened.
One thing Sweeney said is surprising is usually when a child is murdered, detectives receive a lot of information. But in this case, he said, that is not true, even with a $15,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.
Police Chief Carl Davis also said he is surprised that no one has come forward. He said the department is utilizing every tool they can to try and generate leads, but he added he needs the help of the public to make some progress.
He said one thing hampering investigators is the “snitching” philosophy, where people are afraid to talk to police because they are afraid of retribution. He said that fear needs to be overcome for police to make an arrest.
Chief of Detectives Capt. Jason Simon also said the number one thing investigators ask for is for someone who knows what happened to come forward. He said he believes there is at least one person out there who knows what happened.
“Imagine if it was your child who was killed,” Simon said. “You would want someone to come forward.”
Anyone with information can call CrimeStoppers Youngstown at 330-746-CLUE or the Detective Bureau at 330-742-8911.
“We take all anonymous information and run with it where we can, but there comes to the point where the information may need testified in court by the individual, and that’s where it takes our brave community to come forth and to testify,” Simon said.
Simon added that as of June, violence in the city this year seems to be falling.
“We’re down 25% in homicides from last year, 45% in gun-related felonious assault and 35% in felonious assault, so that’s fantastic work,” he said.