12/2/07

Family of gang-slain SEIU official waits in cold

"Someday, I'm going to be the one on TV, when they find who killed Vicki," says Kelly Gangemi of Greece. She will never forget the day in December 1992, when the police found her sister, Vicki Jobson, 31, just off Lyell Avenue, near the spot where Haloid and Rutter streets meet. She had been stabbed several times. There has been no arrest; the case remains open.

Every time there's an arrest in a cold case, Gangemi takes heart. "I know we're going to find out who did this," she says.

At first, the family thought Jobson might have been killed by a Gates man who was suspected of killing at least eight other women. But the suspect died before he was ever charged or tried, and Gangemi says she learned that he was not considered a suspect in her sister's death.

Vicki Jobson's life unraveled in 1991. She'd been living in Syracuse with her two children and their father. She worked as a nurse's aide. She was always a fun person, Gangemi says, but something happened. Her relationship went south. She returned to Rochester, where she'd grown up. One thing led to another — depression, cocaine, an arrest for solicitation.

"My mother would go look for her," Gangemi says. "She'd get Vicki some food and try to get her to come home, but she wouldn't." And then she was gone. "She wanted to save her from being killed," Gangemi says of her mom, who kept a lock of Vicki's hair in a box next to her bed until the day she died.

Jobson was born on Nov. 12, 1961, Veterans Day. And every year since her disappearance, Gangemi, 44, calls her father on Veterans Day to acknowledge his service, then visits the corner where they found her sister, and the cemetery where she's buried.

Gangemi, who used to work as a waitress at Roncone's restaurant on Lyell, just blocks from where Jobson was found, has confidence that the police will one day find her sister's killer.

There's no trace of revenge in her voice when she talks about her sister. "I just want to know what happened," she says. "You can never fill the hole from Vicki's dying. But you can close it a little bit."

Until she has answers, "I'll always wonder, Was he a veteran? Is it somebody she knew? Does he see this story? Did he see me on the news?" And how, she wonders, "can someone carry this secret for so long? I can't imagine how someone can walk around knowing that he killed someone's sister."

For now, Gangemi has only memories. A family scrapbook holds all of the news stories from that time, and the news photos of the scene, of the medical examiner's staff preparing to load Jobson's remains. It holds condolence cards, family pictures and a copy of a Mother's Day card Jobson's daughter, Keisha Washington, made as a second-grader.

Kelly Gangemi understands better than any of us how the family of Latasha Shaw feels as they wait for an arrest in her homicide. She knows what it's like to wait and wait for the truth.

"I can't let this rest," she says. "I'll be doing this when I'm 50, if need be." Somebody has to know the secret of Victoria Jobson's killing. "Did somebody hear the killer talk about it? Did somebody help him move the body? Somebody knows something. It's time to give it up," Gangemi says.

The news is old. The case is cold. But "there's not a minute I don't think about it," Gangemi says. "I will not give up."

(democratandchronicle.com)

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