It’s been one year since three masked intruders broke into Cyle Van Komen’s South Ogden home, held those inside at gunpoint, and ultimately fired their weapons, killing two people and wounding another.
But not a single arrest has been made since the Dec. 9, 2016, shootings.
Police have not even publicly identified a person of interest in the deaths of 24-year-old Van Komen and his neighbor, 61-year-old Kevin Nelson.
It’s frustrating for Van Komen’s parents, who for the past year have mourned their son’s death and been left to question: Who would do this?
“It’s frustrating that there’s so much [evidence] and we can’t find them,” Van Komen’s mother, Ranae Finch, said in an interview this week. “I don’t want this to happen to somebody else. I don’t want another family to go through what we’re going through because of their disregard for life.”
‘You just feel so helpless’
One of the most critical pieces of evidence gathered by police after the shootings came from one of the victims: Nelson’s security cameras at his home next door captured images of his killers staking out Van Komen’s powder blue home, near 36th Street and Ogden Avenue, before the violence began.
It’s a video Van Komen’s father has watched a thousand times. But no matter how many times J.J. Van Komen views the black-and-white images of three masked suspects — crouching outside his son’s home, peeking into his windows, drawing their guns — the father can’t figure out who they are.
“You just feel so helpless,” he said. “It’s just guys, standing right there and you know that’s them, and you can’t do anything about it. You’re just hoping that somebody comes forward, you know. There were three individuals. Maybe one of them will get a conscience or something.”
J.J. Van Komen recalls receiving a phone call from his younger son, Brock, that December night, who told him Cyle had been shot.
“How do you know that?” the father recalled asking.
“Because he’s in my arms,” the son replied.
Video surveillance later would show that the killers had watched the home for more than an hour, even training their guns on Cyle Van Komen’s windows, while the younger brother was in the home. But the suspects waited until Brock and his stepbrother had left — the father said they were gone for 10 minutes to grab some food — before entering the home.
Once inside, the suspects demanded money before firing their guns at the three men, according to a search warrant affidavit written by a South Ogden police officer shortly after the shooting.
Nelson and Van Komen were both deceased when police arrived.
Van Komen’s roommate — who has not been publicly identified — was found in the backyard, according to a search warrant affidavit, critically injured and bleeding from a bullet wound in his neck.
A year later, he does not want to speak about the shooting publicly, according to South Ogden police Lt. Dwight Ruth, due to safety concerns.
Efforts to reach Nelson’s family members this week were unsuccessful. In his obituary, they remembered the Weber County man as someone who was loved and liked by everyone. “Mushy,” as they called him, loved playing guitar and was the owner and operator of Automotive Electronics Specialist (AES) for more than 20 years.
Ruth said that while the case remains unsolved a year later, officers are still working to follow up on leads.
“It is still the number one priority for our investigative team,” he wrote in an email, “and we will continue to work it relentlessly.”
A year ago, South Ogden police Chief Darin Parke urged anyone with information about the killings to come forward. While the South Ogden home was known as a place people went to drink beer underage and smoke marijuana, the chief said he didn’t care about that — he was investigating two homicides.
Ruth this week also emphasized that if people have any information about Van Komen and Nelson’s deaths, they can remain anonymous. Tips can be called into Weber County dispatch at 801-629-8221.
‘The biggest heart’
In Finch’s Syracuse home, memories of her oldest son are scattered throughout. A framed photo shows him ice skating, holding up his little sister. Another snapshot displays his toothy grin, long wavy hair, his hand forming a “hang loose” sign. A Christmas stocking with Cyle’s name embroidered on it is nestled on the mantle between his parents’ and siblings’.
She misses him — misses that smile, his laugh, his hugs. (He gave the best hugs, the mother said.)
“He just had the biggest heart,” Finch said, wiping tears from her eyes. “He was very real. He liked to have very real conversations with people. He didn’t do phony. That’s probably what I miss the most. He was always very open with me. He just truly valued the relationships that he made.”
The 24-year-old man loved hockey and fishing, his parents said, and he made friends everywhere he went. It was not unusual for him to show up to family events with a friend in tow. And oftentimes, J.J. Van Komen noticed, his friends would be wearing his son’s clothes.
“He was just very giving to people,” the father said. “That was him. He just always was accepting of everybody, no matter what kind of background they had or who they were.”
The parents say they hope they may soon find out who killed their son and that it brings closure not just for them, but also for their other children.
Finch said her young daughter is still scared a year later and won’t go into rooms alone.
Before his oldest son’s death, J.J. Van Komen and his wife would leave the porch light on until all their children were home, safe in their West Point home. Now, the kids want the porch light left on all the time and are left with lingering questions about who would do this to their big brother, a young man who was so goofy and full of life?
“To this day, they won’t let us turn the light off,” J.J. Van Komen said, his eyes brimming with tears. “So, I’m hoping that once it’s solved, the front porch light can be turned off.”