EXTENDED INTERVIEW | Parents of both Huntington homicide victims speak on 1-year anniversary

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 6/12/19 @ 6:11 p.m.
It's been exactly one year since two people were gunned down in an apartment in Huntington, right across the street from a baseball diamond where kids play.

Their names were Melvin Courts Jr. and Kelli Adkins.

No one has been arrested.

The mothers of both victims said it may have been 365 days ago, but it feels like an instant.

"Your child is gone. No matter how it happened, why it happened, they’re just gone,” said Kelli’s mother Donetta Pelfrey. “When you don't get to say goodbye, that's the hardest. It's all hard, but to not get to talk to her for one more time, that's the hardest."

Pelfrey didn't get to say goodbye. But on June 12, 2018, she got a phone call that her only daughter was shot and killed.

"No day is a good day, today, I feel like I'm in a fog," she said.

Because every day, she thinks of Kelli and the part of her that is missing and she can never get back, no matter what happens with the case.

She said the last 365 days are the opposite of when new parents celebrate every milestone and holiday.

"You don't celebrate them, but you think here's her birthday and she's not here, here's Christmas and she's not here, here's Mother's Day and she didn't call me. It's just never easy," Pelfrey said.

From her front porch she takes us inside her home in Wayne County to, a special place, full of meaning. In a homemade entertainment center full of photos, there's a shelf devoted to Kelli with pictures with her nieces she loved as her children and scented candles always on.

Pelfrey said Kelli could never leave a store aisle with candles without sniffing every single one.

Then you see it. It’s a bit hidden, but a pink urn with doves, filled with ashes. It’s Kelli's final resting place.

"I always wanted her to come home but not like this," Pelfrey said.

Marie Courts, mother of Melvin Courts Jr. said the last year has been “hell.”

“It doesn't feel like it's been a year, like yesterday."

Their loss is just as great.

Melvin's daughter is now 6 years old and still asks all the time about her father.

"He left his daughter with no father, me with no son. What is there to think? There is nothing to say," said Marie Courts.

Pelfrey said Kelli had mentioned Melvin a couple times in the months before her death. The one thing she told her, Melvin treated her well.

"So I hold onto that at least, at the end, she had someone good to her. And I'm glad he was," Pelfrey said.

She said she spoke briefly with the Courts family after the incident to express condolences, but they haven’t kept in touch.

Both victims struggled at times with the demons of drug addiction.

"It's an awful, awful disease,” Pelfrey said. “She would always tell me, 'Mama, I'm trying, I'm trying.' "

She adds she always feared a phone call about a fatal overdose, but never worried someone would kill her daughter, a good-hearted, rough and tough girl who could hold her own.

Now she and the Courts family want justice, though they know it won't bring their babies back.

"We need justice,” said Melvin Courts Sr. “It's wrong. People do know and nobody wants to say nothing."

"I just want whoever done it to be caught so that she can rest in peace,” Pelfrey added. “Though it ain't going to make any difference for me. I'll never have no peace.”

Kelli Adkins was 27 years old. Melvin Courts Jr. was 26.

Huntington police do not have an update for us on this case at this time.

If you'd like to watch the entire emotional interview with Kelli's mother, click on the video which is attached.



UPDATE 6/14/18 @ 6:15 p.m.
More than 48 hours after Melvin Courts Jr. and Kelli Adkins were killed, their families are too upset to talk about their loved ones.

We're told both were fighting their demons, but loved ones say that's not how they will be remembered.

Adkins’ mother tells us Kelli was silly, liked the country, and was a tough tomboy thanks to being the only girl brought up among six boys. She said she knows Kelli wasn’t perfect, but says she was a good-hearted person who did not deserve what happened.

She also expressed her sorrow to the Courts family.

Two years ago, Kelli lived with Amy Smith’s mother and helped take care of her for about six months. Smith remembers Kelli as a great cook, even making homemade candy. She said Kelli was like 27 years old going on 40, who loved her niece and nephew as if they were her own kids.

"She was a real good girl," Smith said. "She was. She had a big ole heart. She'd do anything. If you needed it, she'd give it to you. That's why I don't understand what happened.”

Smith went to pick Kelli up on Sunday night to visit Smith's mom, just about 36 hours before she would be killed. But they weren't able to connect that night. It’s now difficult for her as she wonders if that would have kept her friend alive.

William Sloan, a minister at Full Gospel Assembly, is a friend to the Courts family. He said everyone called Melvin "Little Melvin" and he was a silly prankster.

Sloan also had a good-natured fashion rivalry with Little Melvin, who was a sharp dresser in his own right, from hat above to shoes below.

He said Melvin loved his 5-year-old daughter and enjoyed raising a few dogs.

"We are going to miss him," Sloan said. "It's a void in our hearts for him. I'm sitting here now trying to fight the tears back just thinking about it. We're going to miss him."

Neither family is sure how Kelli and Melvin knew each other.

We asked both Smith and Sloan how they would remember their friends.

Sloan said the greatest testament to Little Melvin would be if kids learned from his example.

"I'm praying that from his death, the youth will begin to live a new life. That they will say, 'It's time to make a change.'"

"I just want her to be remembered as being happy and having a big heart and not hurting no one,” Smith said. “That girl wouldn't have hurt an animal."

Huntington Police have not released any new information in the case since Tuesday.



UPDATE 6/12/18 @ 6 p.m.
Two people were shot and killed inside an apartment right across from a baseball diamond where children play.

We have now learned their names: Melvin Courts Jr., 26, of Huntington, and Kelli Adkins, 27, of Wayne.

Huntington police are being tightlipped about most details. But they tell us it happened around 2:30 a.m. inside an apartment in the 1300 block of Huntington Avenue,
about two blocks from Hal Greer Boulevard.

For the family of Courts, who spent the day outside, it was a difficult day of standing and sitting and grieving -- even before the names of the victims were released by police.

Minister William Sloan with Full Gospel Assembly spoke to members of the media alongside the parents of Courts.

"You have to fight back your emotions,” he said. “You have to fight back the anger, the pain we have. Even as a minister I have to stand here and act like I'm not affected, as if I got it all together, when inside I'm hurting. The pain I'm feeling is nowhere near to the pain his parents are feeling."

Even tougher moments came as the coroner arrived to take away one of the bodies inside.

Sloan said Courts had been coming to church recently and was turning his life around.

"We lost a child here today. We've lost a child here. No parent should be in this position," he said.

Sloan said he will always remembers the smile Courts had.

"You couldn't be sad in his presence, whatever he was doing he made us smile."

Nancy Beasley lives several doors down from the crime scene. She woke up to the flashing lights, finding out hours later it was a double homicide.

"It's a sad day for this city. It's a sad day for this city block. A sad day for these people's families. These people are somebody's children," she said.

She's lived along Huntington Avenue five years. Years ago, she may have felt comfortable napping on her porch. But not anymore.

"Now if I fall asleep, my glasses could be gone," she said.

In fact, it's part of the reason she got a license to carry a gun six months ago, even though her home looks out onto the baseball diamond of Prindle Field across the street, a place where children constantly play. But no children were playing Tuesday.

Now knowing the reason for those flashing lights which woke her up, she’s more nervous about the neighborhood.

"Not as safe as I went to bed last night feeling," she said.

The family said Courts leaves behind a 5-year-old child.

Few details about Kelli Adkins are known at this time.

Police are not commenting on how the victims knew each other, whose apartment it was or even who phoned 911.

Investigators tell us they have been to that apartment building multiple times on warrants to search for drugs.

It is the city's third and fourth official homicide investigations of the year. However, there are two other deaths are awaiting forensic results before they can be determined whether they are homicides as well.



UPDATE 6/12/18 @ 4:20 p.m.
The names of two people killed early Tuesday morning in a double homicide have been released.

They are Kelli N. Adkins, 27, of Wayne, and Melvin Courts, 26, of Huntington, according to the Huntington Police Department.

Police say the double shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. at an apartment in the 1300 block of Huntington Avenue.

Both victims suffered gunshot wounds.

It is unknown what led up to the shooting. Police say forensic investigators remain on scene.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 6/12/18
Police are on the scene of a double fatal shooting in Huntington.

Huntington Police tell WSAZ it happened about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 1300 block of Huntington Avenue.

Investigators say the victims are a man and a woman. Their names have not been released.

WSAZ has a crew at the scene.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.




 
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