Detectives say bringing closure to families is best part of the job

Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 1:59am

Metro Police Cold Case Unit detectives Norris Tarkington and Charles Robinson agreed the most satisfying aspect of the job is bringing closure to families who lost loved ones years earlier.

When Tarkington was close to making an arrest in the 1997 Michael Dickerson case, he began talking with the victim’s mother and 13-year-old son. After Carlos Lamont Lewis was charged on April 3, Glenn Daniel Sharber III, 29, also was charged with criminal homicide and especially aggravated kidnapping. Metro Police say more arrests are expected in the case.

Police say Dickerson was kidnapped, beaten and then murdered because his alleged assailants were trying to gain information about his brother.

“I approached the family last year and basically told her… she explained she was just beginning to heal from the hurt of losing her son,” Tarkington said. “She stated things have just begun to get better. I’ve talked to his mother on a couple of occasions and they were very thankful to know things are progressing along.”

Robinson agreed that notifying family members of breaks in cases was an especially gratifying aspect of the job. The murder of Dashun Drew, for example, didn’t receive even a fraction of the media attention as the infamous Marcia Trimble case, but Robinson said the arrest of 27-year-old Jermaine Hall Hyler for Drew’s murder was equally as important.

“You have the victim’s family and you get phone calls from them trying to find out how the case is going,” said Robinson, an Army veteran who worked his way through the Metro Police ranks and became a detective in 1999. “You want to bring some satisfaction to the family mainly.”

During Jerome Barrett’s trial for the killing of Sally Des Prez earlier this year, the Des Prez family kept its distance from the media. The family broke its silence eventually when Sally’s brother, Roger, tearfully read a prepared statement after Barrett’s conviction.

“My family and I would like to thank the District Attorney’s office and the Metro Police Department for their hard and careful work in this case,” an emotional Roger Des Prez said, before leaving the courthouse, arms-locked with his family. “We think it’s a credit to all involved that this case was successfully prosecuted after so many years. We feel that justice has been served.”

It’s that type of family closure, the detectives say, that gives them more gratification than the arrests do.