EAST POINT, Ga. (WJBF) – Three years ago on Mother’s Day, a Beech Island woman planned a trip and never returned. The 23-year-old was shot and killed while driving. The family of April Turner wants her case solved.
“She loved seafood, crab legs, shrimp. When she was a baby, she loved McDonald’s chicken nuggets,” Randy Turner, April’s father recalled.
When he wasn’t spoiling his daughter with her favorite foods, Randy Turner gave April the top items she wanted.
“Yeah, maybe I did spoil April a little bit buying her cars and stereos and stuff like that for her car,” he admitted.
Born March 22, 1997 in Augusta, April Turner was the apple of her father’s eye. Along with her mother’s love, she also won the heart of her older sister who told Cold Case Project a new baby came at the right time.
“Very needed, I think, to bring some people together and settle some people down,” her sister Santana Sovine said.
And the memories, Sovine recalled as if they happened yesterday.
She shared, “We used to make pallets on the floor and used to lay there and, for example, watch Titanic.”
The blended family grew apart when April and Santana’s mother went away. Randy raised April. He taught her life skills.
“Before I took her to get her driver’s license, I made her change a tire, check the oil,” he said. “I made sure she knew how to do all of that. ‘You know daddy, I got AAA.’ Well, you might be somewhere that AAA ain’t at or you ain’t got a signal. You gone learn to do this, or you ain’t getting a license. It’s up to you.”
And those mechanical skills paid off, and opened doors to April’s future.
“She even at one time was on the volunteer fire department in Jackson,” Sovine said.
Turner’s life changed when she became a freshman at Silver Bluff High School. It was there where she gave birth to her first child. And where her circle of friends became questionable to her family.
“I didn’t like who she was hanging out with,” April’s father said adding that his daughter eventually had five children total.
“It wasn’t for lack of trying for us to get her to understand that hanging around with those kind of people is not going to get you anywhere good,” her sister said. “But she was a loyal, very loyal person.”
After a one year stay in Athens at a drug recovery center, April wanted to reconnect with her mother and planned a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee to spend time with her. She made the trip and posted a photo of it online.
“I remember them all just, my mom and her now husband and April, they were out on the porch just talking and chatting and laughing and it was really good to hear all of that,” Sovine lovingly remembered.
“She was wanting to buy another car or SUV and her mama was going to help her pay half of it. That was part of the reason she was supposed to be up in Atlanta or Athens,” said Randy Turner, noting that had he known she was going to the Atlanta area with friends he would have shut it down.
Sunday, May 10, 2020 everything changed. Neighbors near the intersection of Pearl Street and Center Avenue in East Point, Georgia told Randy Turner they saw a car crash into a utility pole. People inside the car got out and ran down the street. They called 911 and said someone was injured inside the Ford Fusion. April Turner had no ID and was listed as a Jane Doe. But Sovine said along with fingerprints, her sister’s early days with the volunteer fire department in Jackson, South Carolina became critical at this moment.
“The volunteer fire department knew her. Obviously, when they told me which tattoos and things she had I let them know it was her,” she said.
Santana then called Randy. It was the next day.
Turner recalled, “I said is she alright? She said no. When she said no, I couldn’t talk.”
Tonya Wolford, April Turner’s aunt added, “I couldn’t wrap my head around it, for one thing. I was so angry. Oh man.”
Additionally, April’s father began talking with investigators at East Point Police Department too not long after the murder. He took that information and what he learned from witnesses and some of his daughter’s friends and took to social media to find justice. He said three people were with April when she was killed in that Ford he later learned was rented by a friend not in the car at the time. He’s hoping there was a GPS tracker in the car and cameras at any restaurants April visited that will help solve the crime.
“It’s been three years and whoever killed April is still out there and could have killed more people by now,” he said.
The police incident report is limited. But it details what was found in the car left at Pearl Street and Center Avenue; drugs and money in the form of suspected heroin, a crack pipe and $1200. Her father contends his daughter had stimulus money and he thinks someone else left the drugs after an argument gone wrong.
“That’s why I talked to the medical examiner and the one who did the autopsy on April to find out what was in her system. Well, she wasn’t doing heroin anymore or it would have been in her system,” her father said.
“I don’t want them dead,” Wolford added. “I want them sitting in prison having to think about what they’ve done. I’d love to have April’s picture put up in their cell so they would have to look at her every day to say I took this girl’s life away from her family and for what? So I can sit in prison.”
Anyone with any information about the murder of April Turner on May 10, 2020 should contact East Point Police Department. What family and law enforcement need to get justice and close the case.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps