MILWAUKEE - It was a cool Wednesday afternoon when Makeba Carter was notified that her two daughters were still at school, well after dismissal. It seemed strange, she thought, because her children’s father was supposed to get them that afternoon. She called his phone repeatedly, with no answer.
“At first I thought maybe his phone went dead, but after it kept going to voicemail, I knew something was wrong because he wouldn’t leave the girls at school,” said Carter.
Clinton Washington, a father of two, was devoted to his family. He was a college graduate, a manufacturer by trade and was the oldest of four siblings.
“He was the true definition of a family man,” his youngest sister, Josephine, recalled. “He made sure everyone stayed together. He made sure everyone was having fun.”
When Carter couldn’t get in touch with Washington on that October day, she waited for 30 hours until a call confirmed the fear in her gut.
“I was heartbroken,” said Carter. “All I could think about was, how was I going to break this to our kids that their dad wasn’t coming home?”
‘He was clearly executed, the way he was killed’
The following day, after Washington was last seen, a man was walking in an alley near Holton and Meinicke, looking for cans on that October night in 2016. When he lifted a trash can lid, the man made a gruesome discovery and ran for help.
When police arrived, they found Washington already dead; he was partially naked and without his phone or personal items.
“When you think about all the places in the city of Milwaukee that this garbage can with Clinton inside could have been left, the fact that it was left here seems as though it was sending a message,” Det. Timothy Keller.
Detectives turned their investigation to who killed him and why. In 2016, now cold-case Detectives Keller and Jeremiah Jacks discovered surveillance from a nearby home.
“The video shows a box-style truck driving through the alley and it stops,” said Det. Jacks. “It’s significant because a witness heard that night a truck pulling up and a cargo door opening up and heard someone dragging something off of the truck.”
That "never before seen" video reveals a vehicle of interest that they say is a Ford E350 or higher model box truck, similar to a U-Haul truck, without any markings. The vehicle of interest was not the only clue left behind.
“What we know is Clinton had no absolutely no personal ties to this neighborhood,” said Keller. “However, where he was located deceased…is one building south of where someone who was close to him was living at the time.”
While police ruled that person out as a suspect, they believe the placement of Washington’s body was purposeful.
“I think it’s pretty clear the killers, or whoever killed Clinton, was sending a message to the people around him,” said Keller.
Police say that message could be to silence those who could answer the questions surrounding his death.
“They took time to hide a lot of things,” said Carter. “To take the time to actually put his body in a trash can, transport it – it just says so much.”
If you know anything about this case, contact the Milwaukee Police Cold Case Unit on Facebook or call them at 414-935-7360.