Christmas Day homicide of 18-year-old at Indiana apartment complex still unsolved four years later
Christmas has never been the same for Calab Luckett's family since that fateful day in 2016. At a time when many families were gathering to celebrate, loved ones were forced to plan his funeral.
Calab's mother, Jennifer Schwartz, and his aunt, Nancy Byrd, are CNAs who work hard to provide for their families. And this year was no exception. They worked 16-hour shifts and worked on Christmas Day to make extra money for the holidays. The plan was for their families to celebrate together later in the week. But they never got the chance.
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"Every year we experience the grief again," Nancy told Dateline. “My nephew had so much life ahead of him. And everything was taken away from him immediately. "
Calab Luckett, who lived in Evansville, Indiana, was only 18 years old when he was shot dead on Parkside Terrace, now known as Woodland Park Apartments, on Sunburst Boulevard on Christmas Day.
Nancy told Dateline that her nephew had visited friends at the complex that weekend because his mother was going to work. On Christmas Eve, Calab and his mother spoke on the phone, discussing their vacation plans for later that week. It was the last time she spoke to her son.
"She's completely broken ... never the same since that day," said Nancy tearfully. “We both feel so guilty about working that day. But we are not rich. We fight every day. We had hoped the money would give our families the Christmas they deserved. "
Nancy told Dateline that both families had financial problems for years. Every child who graduated from high school had the hope of going to college, finding a good job, and lifting their families out of poverty. Calab was one of them.
"He finished high school early and planned to go to college," said Nancy. "He had his struggles and problems, but he knew he wanted to make a better life for himself. And for his family."
But the day after Christmas, Calab's family would receive the phone call that destroyed their lives forever.
"His mother got a call from a friend of his who lived there," Nancy told Dateline. “A body was found in one of the vacant apartments. And that friend believed it could be Calab. "
Calab's mother rushed to the scene where she finally identified her 18-year-old son's body from his tattoos.
Detective Kyle Campbell of the Evansville Police Department told Dateline that Calab was shot dead in the vacant apartment on December 25th. His body was found the next day by a maintenance worker.
"My nephew was lying there and bleeding for hours alone," said Nancy tearfully. "We don't know why he was there or who lured him there, but he didn't deserve to die like this."
Detective Campbell told Dateline that he doesn't know why Calab was in the empty apartment and doesn't know if Calab knew his killers.
An autopsy by the Vanderburgh County's Coroner Bureau confirmed that Calab died of a bullet wound to the head and that his death was classified as homicide.
For years, investigators followed numerous tips and clues, but nothing indicated the person who pulled the trigger.
The detective who responded to the scene and became the lead investigator in Calab's case has since retired. The case was then briefly transferred to another detective before being permanently assigned to Detective Campbell about a year and a half ago. He is confident that he can solve Calab's case and close his family.
"I've spoken to members of Caleb's family and seen the grief they all carry to this day," Det said. Campbell told Dateline. “Christmas is a difficult time for them. Each year around this time, people will contact the family with information or the latest rumor they have heard of Caleb's death. Often times it's nothing new, but the same old stories are told over and over again. These people mean well and think they are helping, but they cannot see how it actually hurts the family and extends their grief. "
Detective Campbell told Dateline that he was following new lead on the case but would not go into details due to the open and active investigation. But he added that if someone is forced to share information about Caleb's death, they will ask to share it with law enforcement.
"My heart goes out to Caleb's family and friends," said Det. Said Campbell. "I can't imagine what it was like for them or what they had to go through. I hope to catch Caleb's killer, but I realize I can't do this alone. I need the help of the community. Someone knows the truth about it what happened this Christmas. We just have to talk. "
Calab's family remains in close contact with Det. Campbell and is confident that a fresh look at the case will finally bring them to a close.
Nancy founded Justice for Calab Luckett, a Facebook group that shares memories and photos of Calab and asks for tips and information that might help put together a timeline of the weekend.
"It's been a downward spiral since Christmas four years ago," Calab's aunt Nancy told Dateline. “His mother stopped living after his death. I was there for her in every corner, but I can only empathize. I couldn't really feel her pain. Not so."
Nancy told Dateline that every Christmas has been heartbreaking for her family, but little by little they begin the healing process. And for the first time in years, Calab's mother put up a Christmas tree.
"I know the pain is still fresh for her," said Nancy. "But we're doing our best. We hope that someone will contact us if we share my nephew's story. We need peace for our families and peace for Calab."
Anyone with information on Calab's case should call the Evansville Police Tip Line at (812) 435-6194. All calls are anonymous.
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