On March 20, 2010, near the corner of Calvin and Belfort streets, there was a shooting.
A group of young men shot at a vehicle and injured a teenage girl.
The incident report reads as follows:
“On 3-20-10, at 2102, I was dispatched to 2531 Calvin St., in reference to a shooting.
Upon arrival, the victim was located and transported to Shands via JFRD.
Sgt. B.S. Gidcumb (5818) responded to the scene.
A canvass was conducted.
Homicide was notified and responded.
An ET was assigned by HQ.
Patrol efforts suspended.”
That victim was 16-year-old Tiphne Hollis and she later died from her injuries. She was murdered in what police are calling a case of mistaken identity.
Tiphne was a sophomore at Ed White High School, she loved fashion and working with children at her mother’s daycare. Her mother said she mentored other young women, too.
Tiphne, her younger sister, cousins, and a close friend had spent March 20 shopping for an outfit for a church event the next day. They were on the way to a friend’s cookout when they made several wrong turns and ended up at that fated corner. It turns out that the young men who shot at the car Tiphne was in, had been in a dispute with people in a similar car.
Throwing herself over her little sister and cousin to protect them, Tiphne took a stray bullet to the abdomen.
Police believe the suspects did not know they were shooting into a car full of young girls.
Her case has gone cold.
Tiphne was more than seven lines of an incident report and on the 20th day of every month, her mother, Shanda Whitaker-Ward, makes sure that everyone in the community remembers her daughter. She walks near the intersection to remind people of the senseless violence that took place.
Detectives also remember Tiphne as more than a report.
Dan Janson, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Homicide Sergeant, said he believes this murder has witnesses; Whitaker-Ward said during her crime walks, she has heard the same.
“I always hear that, how the guys are sorry for what they did, but they are not going to turn themselves in,” Whitaker-Ward said.
Seven years have passed since Tiphne’s murder and from this tragedy, was sadly born another for Tiphne’s family. Her father took his own life following her death. Whitaker-Ward said that her family sought counselors, but dealing with the grief is difficult.
"Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it feels like yesterday," Whitaker-Ward said.
Tiphne’s younger sister, however, has taken the gift of life she was given that day and is following in her older sister’s footsteps by mentoring young girls. Tiphne’s sister even started a fashion boutique with her name in her honor.
But Tiphne’s family wants justice, and so do police.
“That right person is out there in this case, I am convinced of it,” Janson said, referring to potential leads.
Whitaker-Ward said that through God she has forgiven the men involved, but she wants them to be accountable for their crimes.
There is always hope for a cold case, but the key often lies in the hands, or mouths, of witnesses.
The recently solved cold case of Freddie Farah, a murder case that was 43 years old, gave Whitaker-Ward hope. She said the Farah family told her not to give up hope.
If you know anything about the death of Tiphne Hollis you can contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office or call Crimestoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS and you will remain anonymous. You can read more of Tiphne's story and donate to her family's cause here.
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