Shane Mustard was 13 when his father died. Ricky Mustard had adopted Shane after marrying the boy's mother, Janet. Even though the parents later divorced, Ricky stayed close to Shane and younger son, Garrett.
He never missed his every other weekend visits. Shane said his father often took him fishing and hunting. He can still remember his last conversation with his dad.
"My mom and I had gotten into it that day," Shane said by phone from his home in Ohio on Dec. 27. "I talked with my dad on the phone that evening. He told me to straighten up and he'd talk to me about it on our next weekend visit."
Shane never got to talk to his dad again. Ricky Mustard was murdered that night. He and his stepdaughter, Tonya Pickett, 16, were shot, each with a single deer slug above their right eye, in their home about midnight on Nov. 18, 1988. The killer was never found.
Because the murderer remains at large and a motive was not determined, Shane has been unable to gain closure to his father's death. And he lost more than his dad.
"Tonya and I were close," Shane said. "She was more like a sister to me than a stepsister."
Shane recalled how he first learned about Ricky and Tonya's fate.
"A friend called my mother the next morning," Shane said. "I heard her talking and heard her say, 'Are they dead?' I thought they were talking about some deer. Then I realized they were talking about Dad and Tonya. I was shocked."
Shane's little brother, Garrett, was 6 years old. His 7th birthday was two days after the murders. Officer Roger Lindsay from the Brazil City Police Department was questioning Janet that day in her home as she tried to prepare some kind of a birthday celebration for Garrett.
"I didn't like him," Shane said of Roger Lindsay. "The way he talked to my mom and the way he acted. I didn't like him at all. From what I've heard, I think that he had something to do with the case not being solved."
Asked if he'd heard that drugs may have been a factor in the murders, Shane said he'd heard such rumors.
"My dad was strongly against drugs," he said. "So I don't believe he had anything to do with drugs."
The Brazil police didn't talk to Shane or tell him anything about the murders. He wasn't surprised by that since he was just 13 at the time. But when he was about 20 or 21 he contacted the police about the case several times.
"I'd stop in and ask the police about it," Shane said. "They never told me much and they never initiated anything with me. I feel like they should have given me more information."
Shane said he remembered Indiana State Trooper Duke Smith was involved with the case at the time.
"Duke was open and honest with things he was allowed to release. He didn't say much 'cause he said he wanted me to remember my dad the way he was. I understand that, but I think I should have been told more."
Members of the Indiana State Police Cold Case Team have talked to his stepmom, Cheryl Pickett, about the case frequently over the past two years, according to Shane.
"They told her all kinds of stuff," he said. "But nothing was ever said to me at all."
Shane said he was so young when it happened and he was so shaken by it; he thinks that if the police had talked to him it might have helped him work through his grief a little better. It might have helped him put some closure to it.
The 29-year-old man is still trying to process the heinous crime. He is enrolled in the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy and will graduate in March 2005.
"My dad's unresolved case was one of my biggest motivators to become a police officer," Shane said. "In my opinion, it was too big for the Brazil Police Department to handle. I'm glad the Cold Case Team is investigating it now. I'd like to see some type of closure."