SALINAS, Calif. - A new website aiming to improve Monterey County’s conviction rate and educate the public about unsolved murders is officially online. The creator of “coldcasecampaign.com” is a Salinas mother, who was inspired to help years ago after her son became an innocent casualty in a gang war still playing out today.
It was at North 1st Street and Crescent Way in Salinas more than 15 years ago. Deborah Aguilar’s 18-year-old son Stephen was gunned down while driving home from 7/11.
“He never got in trouble, he did not have a record so these guys apparently did not know my son,” said Aguilar. “They were out on a mission to kill anyone who looked like their rival.”
After the shooting, Aguilar started a group called “A Time for Grieving.” It is non-profit offering support for people who have lost loved ones to gang violence. But now, she is behind a new and separate effort to find the killers.
“There is information amongst people on the streets,” said Aguilar, “but when it comes to helping the police and detectives to give them some leads we always hit a wall.”
There are plenty more, but right now the site features the names and photos of at least 22 young men killed in the county. Pictures and stories are free for December but in the new year there will a fee of $19.99 per month. Organizers plan to use the money to add cash rewards and private investigators in the future. To alleviate some of these costs and to hopefully allow all cold-case victims to have a spot on the site, the group is currently looking for a sponsor. They are also requesting the services of any pro-bono attorneys or private investigators.
“The money is not to put into our pockets,” said Aguilar. “It’s all going to go back into the community.”