‘I need closure:’ Durham mother hopes for justice one year after son’s death

May 3, 2019

One year after a shooting left a 27-year-old Durham man dead, his mother is preparing for the difficult anniversary by asking for answers and calling for justice for her son.

Denise Ray has a message for her son’s killer.

“You know what you did, and you know it was wrong. I want you to come forward because I need closure,” she said.

Durham police in October charged Donnelle WIlkerson with the death of Justin Royster, who was shot and killed in the 400 block of Canal Street on May 3, 2018. No arrests have been made.

“It’s just been so hard because Justin was a person that was so full of life,” Ray said.

Ray said her son and the suspect had disagreements that led up to the shooting. It’s believed that an argument over a girl may have led to his death.

“He needs to pay for what he’s done,” Ray said.

Over the past year, the grieving mother admits she has put on blinders to move forward, but with Friday marking one year since her son was killed, all the emotions are front and center again.

“No mother wants to bury their child,” she said.

Friends and family members on Friday will gather at 11:05 p.m., the exact time Royster was killed, to mark the anniversary.

On Saturday, an event to honor lives lost to violence will be held at Durham’s East End Park from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.