KILLEEN, Texas — As the number of murders in Killeen continue to add up, victim families are making sure their daughters are not forgotten as they continue their search for justice.
Jose and Ivette Rodriguez lost their daughter Alondra Santiago on September 7, 2021. She was the third victim of gun violence that Labor Day weekend.
"They was the only one in the street and as soon as they got close to her, they started shooting," Jose said. "It was a random shooting. Her car was impacted 8 times - 7 in the front side and the last one was in the window, the driver's side, and that's what she got hit by."
"I don't talk to her, I don't see her no anymore," Ivette said. "But I pray every single day that I hope somebody, the police found the people who do it."
Alondra's story is not uncommon. Terrie Boley's daughter Candance was also murdered in Killeen, almost 12 years ago.
"For five years I did nothing, I was just so heartbroken," she told 25 News. "And I was so disgusted with having to deal with these disgusting people in Killeen that it just made me sick to even think about it."
Boley said she feels her daughter's case was neglected from the beginning.
"We found out about her murder by reading the paper. We don't live in Texas," she said. "We contacted the police department when we hadn't heard from her in a while, then we pulled up the Killeen Daily Herald and read about a woman who was found murdered in her home."
Her family now shares the pain of so many others who fear there will never be justice.
"Before Candance was murdered, she had told us about a friend of hers in January who was also murdered," Boley said. "Her murder is also unsolved. What's going on, it's bad. And it's not just happening to us, it's happening to a lot of people."
The Killeen Police Department has seen an increase in murders over the last five years.
In 2018, there were just seven across the city. That number shot up to 16 in 2019, and 26 in 2020. There was a 31 percent drop in murders in 2021 with 18 people losing their lives and 19 now so far in 2022.
Of the 37 murders since January of 2021, roughly half remain unsolved.
"When we have our homicide cases, we bring full bear of the police department to attempt to solve them," KPD Chief Chuck Kimble said. "Particularly when it comes to our gang and narcotic cases, people are reluctant to talk because of the nature of the business."
Chief Kimble told 25 News the majority of their open cases are categorized as gang and drug violence.
"We have redoubled our efforts when it comes to drug investigations," Kimble said. "We have partnered with our Bell County Crime Unit, with our federal partners to really put a hold on the gang activity. We're really going after those involved in the gang and narcotics trade to suppress that activity."
As police work to put an end to the violence, families like Alondra's say the city is not doing enough to keep Killeen residents safe.
"They found a reason to put a little bandage on a big problem," her dad said. "This is a big problem in this city. The city council keeps approving new housing, permits for new houses. New houses, more people. More people, more crime."