It’s been almost 13 years since a 78-year-old father, grandfather and great-grandfather was shot and killed off Martin Luther King Avenue in Mobile.
His name was Grady Baber, but he was known to many by a different name.
“He was commonly referred to as the shrimp man,” said Sgt. Rusty Hardeman, cold case detective for the Mobile Police Department. “He sold shrimp and other seafood out of the back of his truck.”
And he died in that truck on 4th of July weekend, 2004. His dog was in the truck, and there was a human eyewitness to the crime.
“From what the hooker said on the street, some man walked up and asked if he had shrimp,” recounted Debra Baber, Grady’s daughter. “He told him he didn’t have no shrimp. And then he asked him for his wallet and my daddy told him a bad word and he shot him right there.”
Between the time the call came in that and the time officers arrived at the intersection of Hercules Street and Live Oak Street, something happened that would make this a tougher case to crack.
“About the time the detectives showed up, the bottom dropped out, just a torrential downpour,” said Hardeman. “If there had been any fingerprints on the outside of the vehicle, the rain would have washed them away. If there had been any DNA on the outside of the vehicle, on the ground near the vehicle, of course the rain would have carried those away as well.”
Hardeman says tips came in on a semi-regular basis for a while.
“Over the years there have been several people of interest, names that have come up, but the witness has not been able to identify anyone as the perpetrator,” he said.
Grady Baber’s killer was described as a short, thin black man in his early 20’s. So he would be in his mid-30’s now.
“Somebody knows what happened,” said Hardeman. “The person who did this, he’s told somebody.”
Even after 13 years, Grady Baber’s family remains hopeful that this cold case will be solved.
“We’d like to have a little closure,” Debra Baber said. “It’s still tearing the family up. Especially when it’s a birthday or it’s 4th of July weekend. Somebody’s got a conscience out there and they need to come forward. Someone knows something about what happened. Someone saw what went down.”