The last time Carmella King saw her fiancé, he left her to hang out with a co-worker in rural Pennsylvania. Her last “love you” text message remained unanswered. A few hours later, she said, her body was lying on the front lawn of the cabin—several bullets had hit her back.
Peter Bernardo Spencer was assassinated on 12 December – more than six weeks earlier. Since then, no charges have been filed in the murder of the 29-year-old father.
“He was a good man and his life mattered,” said King. “He deserved to be here to raise his child and to be the family man, the husband and that hardworking man.”
For 45 days, the people accused of Spencer’s murder have been roaming free – leaving behind their families, activists and religious groups. “The incident underscores a serious double standard in which the wheels of justice operate differently depending on the color of the victim’s skin,” he said.
According to the Pennsylvania State Police, Spencer, who emigrated from Jamaica in 2013, was found dead shortly before 2:30 a.m. in Rockland, Pa.—about 85 miles north of Pittsburgh. News release. Officers also found several firearms, “ballistic evidence” and drugs in the cabin. The suspect – described as a 25-year-old white man – and three other men, who are also white, were detained and questioned. All four were released after consultation with the Venango County District Attorney’s Office. The state police’s legacy affairs team, which responds to hate or prejudice-related crimes, was notified—but Spencer’s death is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Civil rights attorney Paul Jubas said, “I would love to see a district attorney who finds a crime scene with a house full of black people, a white man in a yard with nine bullet holes, and then detains them and Lets them all go.” , who is advising the Spencer’s family. “I would love to see how he reacts. That district attorney will be out of office immediately the next day. White America will not stand for it.”
Venango County District Attorney Shaun White urged patience in a statement sent Tuesday Washington PostHaving said that while he recognized the family’s desire for information, his office should conduct a thorough investigation.
But as the days go by and no arrests have been made, the family’s astonishment has turned to outrage. They are now calling on federal agencies to join the investigation; to refer the case to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro; And to release the information Cyril Vecht, a renowned pathologist hired to conduct a private autopsy.
“We are being pelted with stones,” Jubas said. “So even something as simple as sharing photos of their autopsy with our medical examiner — even something small — they’re refusing to cooperate.”
Spencer was a beloved “mama’s boy,” said his mother, Isilda Spencer-Hunter. He used to call her “Madre” and was always ready to give her a big hug or a shoulder rub. They said, together, they were working to make their dream of opening a restaurant a reality – starting with a catering service offering Jamaican staples. Although Spencer recently became a vegetarian, Isilda said her son’s specialties include jerk chicken and “curry and anything with herbs.” His younger brother Tahila remembered Spencer as a self-taught, multi-skilled individual who was always ready to help others.
He was also a soon-to-be father – to a baby boy who would be born in June.
Dissatisfied with authorities’ little knowledge of the circumstances of Spencer’s death, the family turned to Wecht, a former Allegheny County coroner and medical examiner who has consulted on high-profile cases such as the deaths of JonBenet Ramsey and Lacy Peterson.
Although Weicht examined Spencer’s body, he said that he was only able to analyze a few photographs from Emblemer and sought reports from the coroner, to no avail. Because the funeral home put trocars in the wounds, he said, it was difficult to end the trajectory of bullets. Several seem to have entered through Spencer’s back.
“There are nine shots fired from a distance of 24 inches, or what we call long-range shots,” Veitch said. “It’s like seeing someone who has been hunted is absolutely horrifying.”
According to Spencer’s family and Tim Stevens, activist and president of the Pittsburgh-based Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), the co-worker admitted to being the shooter and was claiming to be in self-defense. The person they identified – but whose name police have not disclosed – did not respond to requests for comment.
Stevens said a lack of “transparency and accountability” prompted B-PEP to send a letter Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, D., U.S. Attorney Generals Merrick Garland and Shapiro urged him to step down. Stevens said local officials are monitoring the case, but Shapiro’s office would need an official request from Venango County to get involved.
Spencer was killed in one of Pennsylvania’s most rural counties—one where just 1.1% of the population is black, according to US Census Bureau data, For William Anderson, president of the Allegheny County Democratic Black Caucus, the figures call into question the county’s ability to access investigations without racial bias. He said, this case brings to the fore a racist past, which has remained confined to the state till now.
“It’s a settlement with a population of 1,400, where some people are living a lifestyle thinking that blacks and people of color are taking over their country,” Anderson said. “How can the county’s district attorney be equipped to handle and prosecute this case without prejudice?”
Tracked at the Southern Poverty Law Center 36 Active Hate Groups In Pennsylvania—most of them skinheads, with neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies, according to its data. a history of sunset city Dale Snyder, a pastor at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church – still inhabits much of the state’s rural areas – or the all-white community where minorities were barred after dark by the threat of violence.
“The fact is, the historical context of all this is what they would do during Jim Crow to bring out blacks to make them their victims,” said Snyder, whose church is joining calls for transparency in the Spencer investigation. “So we’re trying not to jump to any conclusions, but when it happened in December it’s very hard.”
The memorial service held for Spencer on December 31, Isilda said, was a roller coaster of emotions. There was frustration at being “ghosted” by the authorities, she said, helpless at not having answers, comfort from tributes about her son’s kindness and also hope that something good would come out of the tragedy.
“They always said, ‘Something good is going to happen,’ and that’s where I’m going with it,” Isilda said. “But I need people to treat my dead son as a person—not a thing or a number. He was a person’s child, and they should listen to his story.”