PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Joshua Jeffries was just 11 when he was shot and killed in his bed in the Woodstock neighborhood in 2001.
The case remains unsolved today.
“Somebody took my child’s life. We want to know who. We want to get this over with so that we can rest and that Josh can rest,” Gayle Hoefert, Joshua’s aunt and legal guardian told KOIN 6 in 2003, two years after the murder.
KOIN 6 News covered the story extensively at the time, speaking with neighbors about the shooting that happened on a sweltering August night around 4 a.m.
“I heard a shot and the shot sounded kind of muffled but I couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from,” Alex Ross, a neighbor, told KOIN 6 in 2001.
Joshua was home with 3 other people at the time, including his aunt Gayle. “I woke up to Josh running in my room saying that somebody had come in the back door and then he collapsed on my floor,” she said during the 2003 interview.
Gayle’s roommate Diane Lovett was home, as was Josh’s sister Leanna. Gayle’s daughter Shannon was in a camper in the backyard.
Portland Police Bureau detectives recently told KOIN 6 News that investigators did a thorough job on the case but a clear suspect and motive have yet to materialize.
“It’s very unique circumstances. It doesn’t happen very often. It’s a very difficult case to solve, it’s a very difficult case to work,” PPB Detective Meredith Hopper tells KOIN 6 News.
“Nothing has ever rose to any kind of level of thinking ‘that’s the person who did it.’ It’s always been kind of investigative leads that have been followed up on and but unfortunately have been closed,” Hopper says.
The mystery has been haunting Joshua’s family ever since.
“That was the most tragic day of my life,” a tearful Gayle told KOIN 6 in 2008, seven years after the murder. “The person that did this took an innocent child. He doesn’t have, or she or they or whatever, they don’t have the right to be able to be out here and celebrate with their family and have fun and drive a car, something that he’s never gonna be able to do.”
Gayle died last year before finding answers about the murder of her nephew that she loved like a son. Police say Joshua had no criminal record, no ties to gangs and didn’t use drugs or alcohol.
“The thought has always been that maybe somebody else was the intended target. They investigated that quite a bit. We still continue to investigate that but nothing has really come forward,” Detective Hopper says.
However, shortly after the murder, neighbor Ruth Miller told KOIN 6 News she believed a family friend killed Joshua.
“There are 3 dogs who bark at everybody including me, all the time and there’s no way that someone would have gone into that house as a stranger without my having known,” Ruth said in 2001.
Even with so many possibilities and so few clues, Detective Hopper says the case is still on the Portland Police Bureau’s front burner.
“The person that committed this crime has, I believe, told other people and it’s just very important to give the family closure particularly on this heinous crime.”