MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The family of Fredricka Hodges is preparing for its first Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table. Hodges was killed by a stray bullet while she was driving in April. In October, Hodges' family members learned all charges were being dropped against the man arrested following the shooting.
The seasons have changed on Milwaukee's north side, but there are a couple of constants at the intersection of 24th and Center: the tree planted in memory of Fredricka Hodges, and the search for her killer.
"We`re not looking forward to those holidays like we used to because we`re such a close-knit family. Just not having her spirit here and her presence here will be tough," Hodges' mother, Lurlenn Hodges said.
Fredricka Hodges was killed when someone started shooting near the corner of 24th and Center. Police say the young mother of two was not the target of a bullet that hit her in the head.
Three months later, police arrested 21-year-old Brandon Crawford and the case was preparing to go to trial -- but in October, the state dropped all charges against Crawford.
"It was really devastating because we thought we was onto something and we thought we was coming to a little closure and for everything to get reversed, it was like everything goes back to square one," Hodges' brother, Willie Hinson said.
A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office says Crawford's arrest was based on eyewitnesses picking the suspect out of a lineup. As the case neared trial, those witnesses began to doubt whether they picked the right guy. The spokesman says that -- along with a credible alibi led to the decision to drop the charges against Crawford.
"It was a major setback for all of us," Lurlenn Hodges said.
Hodges' daughters are now nine and three. The oldest, Alayah asks that her mother's shooter come forward.
"Give yourself in. Don`t just be a killer. Just come in. Just go to jail," Alayah said.
"Seven months later, and there`s no justice. Where`s the justice for my daughter? Until there`s justice, I don`t know if I can move forward," Lurlenn Hodges said.
Milwaukee police say detectives have reopened the Hodges case.
The family has set up a toy drive for the evening of December 7th at the Ultra Lounge on Water Street. They're asking people to bring girl's toys, which will be Christmas presents for Hodges' two daughters.