CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — The ritual unfolds the same way each week.
Every Wednesday, Kim Sherbert takes out her phone and calls the homicide detective who has been a part of her life for eight years.
For 416 Wednesdays, she has called.
She asks if there are any leads, any answers as to who killed her teenage son and his best friend.
The response is always the same: There is nothing new. Police are still working on it.
Eight years ago this month, someone shot and killed Kim’s son, Mason Jones, and his friend, Joshua Compton, inside Josh’s house.
Josh was nine days short of his 18th birthday. He loved karate and collected swords and wanted to go into the Army someday.
Mason was 16, a fun-loving son who cracked jokes and photo-bombed people’s pictures and was just learning to drive a stick shift.
They died on a Wednesday, and Kim called the detective for an update a week later. She phoned again the following week, and the one after that.
While life moves on, the boys’ mothers still wait for resolution. They hope someone will hear their story and come forward with information that could lead to an arrest.
“Even though it’s been eight years, you don’t stop thinking about it,” said Diane Compton, Josh’s mom. “Parents shouldn’t outlive their children.”
“What have you done?”
Mason and Josh grew close in middle school and lived just a few blocks apart in South Norfolk.
“They were the best of friends,” Kim said. “If you saw one, you saw the other.”
“Most people thought they were brothers, really,” added Diane.
The boys loved video games, playing pickup basketball at the rec center and catching crabs in the waterways near their neighborhood.
As high-schoolers, Mason and Josh started a lawn mowing business. Many of their regular customers were elderly and couldn’t pay, but the boys did the job anyway, accepting payment in the form of pizza, sodas and cookies.
“They never forgot those people,” Kim said. “They always went to everybody that expected them.”
On April 14, 2009, Josh lay in bed at home, recovering from an appendectomy. It was spring break, and Mason asked his mom if he could spend the night at Josh’s and keep him company.
All evening, friends had been in and out of the Comptons’ house on Rowland Avenue visiting Josh.
So Diane didn’t think much of it when someone knocked on the door around midnight.
Mason spoke to the man at the door, and Josh came downstairs from his bedroom to join them, Diane said.
She heard no raised voices, no argument, no cause for alarm.
After about 10 to 15 minutes, she told the boys it was chilly and getting late – time for bed.
OK, Josh told her. Just a few more minutes.
Diane lay down on the living room couch. Then, gunshots.
Josh tried to close the door between the living room and foyer, but a love seat was in the way, Diane said. The shooter reached around the door and fired.
“Oh, my God, what have you done?” Diane remembers saying.
The shooter ran. Diane described him as a black man with a round face and big cheeks. When Josh and Mason were talking to him at the door, Diane said there was another man standing behind him.
Diane and Kim believe their sons knew the person who killed them. Why else would they have stood in the foyer, talking for so long?
At Kim’s house a few blocks away, a police officer came to the door with a chaplain.
“All they did was say, ‘Mason .’ ” Kim recalled.
“That kind of said it all.”
Years later, Josh’s and Mason’s deaths remain at the front of Detective Robert Hatchell’s mind.
It’s the kind of case he thinks about when he’s mowing the grass or trying to fall asleep at night.
“This case has been such an emotional roller coaster,” Hatchell said. “Because we feel such an attachment with the families, especially with it being this long.”
Hatchell investigated the case from the beginning and hates having to tell Kim on her Wednesday calls that there’s nothing new.
“I’ve been saying that for eight years,” said Hatchell, who’s investigated homicides in Chesapeake for 13 years.
The teens’ deaths are not considered a cold case because investigators are still pursuing several avenues, he said, declining to go into the specifics.
Hatchell said police have exhausted all forensic leads. People called with tips early on but stopped after a few months. Investigators pursued several potential suspects, but nothing worked out, he said. Diane is the only eyewitness.
What would help now: Someone coming forward with information.
“I am 100 percent sure . that there are people that know what happened. They know what happened, they know who did it,” Hatchell said. “What we need is for someone to have the right motivation to talk to us about it.”
Josh and Mason would be in their 20s now. Today, their high school friends are adults, some with their own families. Kim hopes they will look at their children and empathize with her, imagine what it would be like to lose a son or daughter. And she hopes it will motivate them to speak up about what they know.
“Maybe somebody knows something and they just don’t realize we’re still waiting on answers,” she said. “Whoever you are, we still need you.”
Remembering their sons
Reminders of Josh fill Diane’s living room.
His urn sits beside the television. Three swords from his collection hang on the wall.
Diane keeps a small memorial in her front yard with silk flowers she replaces every Easter.
At Kim’s house, Mason’s bedroom remains untouched.
His clothes are still folded in the dresser.
Kim keeps the door shut, but every once in awhile, she’ll step inside and talk to Mason.
She’ll tell him about what’s happening in her life or that his favorite band is coming to the Lunatic Luau festival in Virginia Beach.
“I just sit there,” she said, “and tell him what’s going on.”
Kim said her son’s case has to be solved at some point. She holds onto that thought to make it through each day, she said.
Until then, she will keep pressing for answers.
Today is Wednesday, and she’ll call the detective again.