Family and police hope a $50,000 reward will help solve Carl Reimer’s murder
The 2010 death of 19-year-old Carl Reimer has changed his mother’s life in countless ways—from the daily reminder of his inescapable absence, to smaller things, like the new meanings she hears in old songs.
“Songs have a completely different meaning since my son was killed, especially love songs,” JoAnn, Reimer’s mother, says. “It’s that Fleetwood Mac song that really gets to me.”
The song is “Landslide,” in which Stevie Nicks croons, “Well I’ve been afraid of changing / ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Even children get older / And I’m getting older, too.”
The last part especially hurts, says JoAnn. “It talks about ‘children get older,’” she says. “Well, my son isn’t.”
Reimer died early on Saturday, April 24, 2010 after being shot multiple times at an apartment complex on Santa Cruz’s Westside late the night before. Police believe the shooter was a local gang member who mistook Reimer, who had no gang ties, for a rival gang member he was sent to kill.
As the two-year anniversary of Reimer’s death approaches, the case remains unsolved and no arrests have been made. Deputy Chief Rick Martinez, who oversees key SCPD investigations, could not comment on whether police have a suspect, but said they are currently pursuing several leads.
Reimer’s death was one of six homicides in the City of Santa Cruz in 2010, five of which the SCPD believes to be gang-related or motivated, according to police spokesman Zach Friend. Of the 13 homicides that have occurred since 2008, the SCPD has made arrests in 11. Reimer was killed just six months after the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Tyler Tenorio, who happened to be a close family friend of his. Police made the first arrest in Tenorio’s murder three days after the incident, on Oct. 19, 2009.
“The mother and the family have already been through too much on the [Reimer] case and we owe it to them to keep moving forward to bring justice to this case,” says Martinez. “We’re committed to solving all of our unsolved cases, but this one, especially—it had a really random element to it that gives us great concern and the community great concern.”
In an attempt to move things along, the SCPD has asked for $50,000 through the Governor’s Reward Program, which selectively grants money to assist police departments with solving important cases.
The department applied for the reward on April 21, 2011—around the one-year anniversary of Reimer’s murder—and, according to Friend, the application is still pending. Since applying, he says the SCPD has followed up with phone calls and emails to the governor’s office, the most recent of which was in March.
“We’re hoping that [the reward] will mean that someone will come out of the woodwork that has information,” says Martinez.
While Martinez assures that city financial problems have not played a role in the department’s inability to close the case, he does say that money is too tight for the city to be able to offer such a high reward itself.
“Budget constraints are not a concern at all in this investigation,” Martinez says. “But we don’t have the ability as a city to commit to $50,000 for this. That’s why we’re asking for help from the state.”
Reimer’s mother is confident that the sum will lead to the arrest of her son’s shooter. “Someone is going to roll over on him,” she says.
But after more than a year of waiting to hear back from the state, she is feeling impatient. “I feel like, the anniversary is coming up, so let’s get this information out there,” she says. “I want those reward posters so I can pass them out.”
She is currently gathering signatures on a petition that she intends to mail to the Governor’s Office and that reads, in part, “We, the family, friends and others concerned with the gang violence in our community, are asking that you provide state funds for information leading to an arrest in this case.” As of press time, the petition was available at Westside Coffee Co. at 849 Almar Ave., # H, in Santa Cruz, and Norma Jean’s Coffee at 8043 Soquel Drive in Aptos. The petition can be found online here.
“We believe community support of the application will be helpful” in obtaining the money, Friend writes to GT in an email.
If the reward is secured, Martinez says the SCPD will launch a media campaign and distribute fliers to the community. The department has applied for and received a $50,000 reward from the Governor’s Office once before, for the 2003 murder of 20-year-old Derek Snell at a Memorial Day barbecue in the Beach Flats neighborhood. Although the state awarded Santa Cruz the money, and the police department worked to publicize it (even going door to door with fliers in both English and Spanish), the money has not resulted in any progress in the case.
“But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up all hope on that case,” says Martinez. “There is always the potential that someone will have the conscience to come forward or they’ll find themselves in the position where they have to talk to get themselves out of trouble. These cases are never closed until they are solved.” The $50,000 is still available for the Snell case.
The anniversary of Reimer’s death falls during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is a nationwide time to reflect on loved ones lost to violent crime. The Santa Cruz County Victim Witness Assistance Center has organized its first ever Crime Victims’ Rights March for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25 at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse.
Sylvia Nieto, director of the Santa Cruz County Victim Witness Assistance Program, says the event is aimed at raising awareness about a number of things, such as that, “even though we live in this beautiful coastal community, we still do have tragic things that happen that impact our community and have ripple effects.”
She hopes the march—at which victims’ family members will carry posters bearing the deceaseds’ faces—will, like the incentive of a $50,000 reward, encourage people to come forth with valuable information.
“We have unsolved crimes in our community,” says Nieto. “Some people out there have knowledge and are not coming forward. They have a responsibility to help heal our community with the information they have.”
Nieto wants these people to know that there are services in place to protect them once they do speak up. “I know people fear retaliation but we do have law enforcement authorities to help deal with that,” she says. “If someone is really in fear for their life, there is help available to them.”
As the head of our local witness assistance program, she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to convince people to come forward with information, especially when it pertains to a gang-related crime—something the police have grappled with in the Reimer case.
“This case has some substantial gang overtones to it and witnesses are reluctant to come forward out of fear for their own safety,” Martinez explains. “[Coming forward] could mean a fresh start and relocation. The reward money [combined] with the potential for witness relocation might stimulate that witness to come forward.”
As for JoAnn, she hopes that her petition will show the governor how important this money is to the community, and that she will soon see justice carried out for her son’s death.
“I think then I’ll have a little bit of closure,” JoAnn says. “Some peace of mind.” But she says a closed case could bring closure to the wider community, as well, because, as she says, “Carl was everyone’s son.”
Those with information pertaining to the case can leave an anonymous tip on santacruzpolice.com, through the SCPD iPhone app, or by calling the tip line at 420-5995. Detectives can be reached at 420-5820.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CARL REIMER’S FAMILY.