Jasmine Cruz’s mother still remembers the last words her 20-year-old daughter spoke to her as she left the family home the night of Jan. 15, 2012 and walked up Hartville Street.
“I was like, ‘Jasmine, Jasmine come back home. It’s real cold,'” she said.
“She looked back at me and she said, ‘Mommy, mommy, I’ll be back, but always remember that I love you.’ And those were her last words – I love you.”
A half hour later, the house was swarmed by frantic neighbors knocking on the door.
Jasmine had been shot, gunned down as she stood outside on the 3400 block of H Street.
She died in the hospital the next day.
Her family still has in their basement the bag of bloody clothes Jasmine was wearing when she was killed. Jasmine’s mother keeps strapped to her wrist a rope bracelet found on her daughter’s body.
But for the most part, Jasmine’s family is left only with memories – and questions.
“We’re always going to just have that question in our head, like, why?” Jasmine’s sister Jessica Berrios said.
“What happened that night? What caused it? Was there something going on that led to that? Was it just random? We just don’t know. So that makes it harder.”
Nearly two years after the slaying, no arrests have been made.
“There’s not a day that I don’t wake up crying,” Jasmine’s mother said.
“There’s not a day that I don’t go to sleep crying for my daughter. It’s real hard for all of us. The only thing that I ask God every day and day and night is, ‘Please, God, open doors for my daughter. Let somebody show up and be like, ‘this is the person,’ or have the DA give us a call and give us good news, because all I want is justice for my daughter.”
But so far, the family’s pleas for answers have been met with silence.
“With Jasmine, as soon as that happened, my mom woke up my sister and we all was out in our neighborhood, but it wasn’t like any other case,” Jasmine’s sister Maritza said.
“Nobody was saying anything. Not even her friend that she was with that night that called her outside to go out, he has nothing.”
Homicide Det. Edward Scally said Jasmine’s slaying “is still a very active case.”
“Unfortunately, it happened on a freezing cold night,” he said.
“There wasn’t really anybody out there with her and the circumstances surrounding the murder were related to, we believe, narcotics sales.”
He said he’s been working with the District Attorney’s Office in the hopes someone arrested on an unrelated charge gives information about Jasmine’s murder to decrease their penalty.
Scally noted the shooting happened on a violent block, where a man was the same day shot several times, just hours before Jasmine’s murder.
“The crime scene tape was basically still stuck to the poles out there from that job,” he said.
A thorough investigation revealed the two shootings to be unrelated.
“I don’t think her case is going to be solved unless somebody basically says anything, which is just in the streets considered ‘snitching.'” Jessica said.
“So if somebody ‘snitches,’ then maybe her case will be solved.”
In the meantime, the family struggles to maintain. They said holidays and birthdays are the hardest, and they now have a new anniversary to commemorate –that of Jasmine’s death.
“Every year now is like, you don’t know whether you’re supposed to be celebrating life or death,” Jessica said.
“So we’re at the cemetery, you don’t know – are we supposed to be happy? Are we still supposed to celebrate life? Or are we supposed to be sad? It still takes time to get used to.”
“Sometimes I wake up and I say, ‘I hope somebody knocks on my door and I open the door and it’s her and it’s a dream,’ but I know it’s not, you understand?” Jasmine’s mother said.
“All I do is just pray to God every day to give us the strength that we need. That’s all we ask for, justice for my daughter Jasmine Cruz.”
Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or 3335, or to submit an anonymous tip by dialing 215-686-TIPS (8477), texting PPD TIP (773847), emailing email@example.com or by filling out this online form.
As with all homicides in the city of Philadelphia, there is a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.