Mother of murdered father’s child pleads for help

Updated: Feb. 1, 2022 at 10:00 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In February 2020, two people walked into a Wichita apartment and murdered James Winston III. Family and investigators say Winston didn’t have an enemy in the world, and both tell Factfinder 12 they believe he knew the people who killed him. The question now: Do you?

James Winston’s daughter Aubrey, just turned two years old. Her mother, Valyn Burrel says the little girl is into everything these days. She describes her as full of life, and she says Aubrey gets that from her daddy.

“She’s so passionate like him. She’s so excited for life. She wants to help. If somebody’s crying, she asks if you’re OK,” Burrel said.

Unfortunately, tears are something Aubrey has seen plenty of during her brief time on this earth. Her father murdered when she was just 16 weeks old. Winston was shot multiple times while sitting on his bed waiting for a friend to come over. Wichita Police Detective Robert Chisholm says Winston probably knew the people who shot him, but nearly two years later, investigators do not.

“We’ll see, on some video, the suspects will run back to the south, get in the car and leave back to the east. Then we lose sight of them,” Detective Chisholm said.

The ghostly images of Winston’s killers have done little to help investigators. A combination of infrared light, fast movement and how the security cameras store video make the suspects impossible to identify. They appear as almost transparent figures walking in the night. No defining detail on the suspects has made them unidentifiable.

“From the timeline that we have based on the video, I don’t believe there was any argument. I don’t believe there was any conversation. I believe these people walked in, opened fire and ran out,” Chisholm said.

Time code on the surveillance video show the entire incident took only seconds. Chisholm says Winston was involved in an ongoing custody battle with former in-laws, but he found no indication that anyone had reason to want James dead.

“We believe James knew who it was that shot him. That he knows who they are or knew who they were and was not concerned about them. And we have not been able to figure out who that person or those persons are,” Chisholm said.

“I told him, I said, ‘it’s gonna be hard to solve this one detective because you got to find the person that was that didn’t like him.’ And, unfortunately, it was probably somebody that he thought loved him,” Burrel explained.

Burell also says, there’s a good chance that if James Winston knew the people who killed him, she knows them too.

“That’s what scares me. Because as much as I want this case solved. I’m afraid to know who did it,” she said. “It’s gonna break my heart when they finally solve this case, and I know it. I already know it.”

Maybe the best clue available to help get this case solved comes from more security video from that night. It shows the suspects’ vehicle pulling up to the home before the shooting and another angle shows that vehicle driving away. The car is a light colored, possibly white, four door. We’ve included a still photo of that car with this story and the video in the broadcast version attached. Investigators hope someone reading this will recognize that car as one belonging to someone James Winston III knew in February 2020.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact police by clicking here.

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