Grieving mom recalls her son’s death 5 years later; wants justice for other victims

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Word that her son was shot came like the thief in the night every mother fears.

Five years ago Monday, Codi McCann, 22, was shot and killed behind the East State Bar & Grill. His death changed the life of his mother, Stacey Davis, forever.

Dec. 6, 2016, Davis was sitting at home, settling in for the night when around 10 p.m. she got a call from his friend Zack that “Codi was unconscious in the parking lot and I needed to get there right away,” Davis said.

Racing from the crime scene in the alley behind the bar to Parkview Randallia to Parkview Regional Medical Center frantically begging for information on her son, the grief has never ended.

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Codi McCann

Her fears were confirmed that night when Davis got a call from a 449 number, the city’s phone exchange. At the other end, someone asked where she was and told her she could go to the scene and talk to a detective.

Pulling up, she saw the chaplain with a box of tissues. It was all she needed to know.

“That’s when I knew. They didn’t have to tell me,” Davis recalled.

Watching as her son lay dead in the cold in the alley for hours until the Allen County Coroner arrived will haunt her until she dies, something she longs for at times. The trauma never leaves her.

But Davis did not isolate herself after she lost Codi. She became an activist and co-founded Justice Accountability Victim Advocacy with a new friend she found on Facebook, Amy Miller-Davis.

Davis’ nephew, Spencer Smith, 20, was killed several months later at East Central Towers as he ran from his assailants, who pumped several bullets into his body.

JAVA, as the Facebook group is known, has helped other people who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence by candidly sharing their grief with them and helping families as they navigate the legal system.

As a grieving mother who has attended countless vigils for other families, Davis held a short ceremony Sunday for Codi at Shoaff Park where a memorial service berry tree was planted by the Fort Wayne Parks Department. The service berry will flower in the spring with white blooms, bear fruit in the summer and in autumn, turn a brilliant red, Davis said.

It’s there for Codi’s friends who want to visit him, she said, on good days and bad days.

Justice for Codi came on Dec. 5 2019 after an Allen County jury found his convicted killer, Quentin Stewart, guilty of murder and using a firearm to commit an offense. He was sentenced to 70 years in prison.

Prosecutors called the murder a “drug rip,” believing that Stewart was after a pound of marijuana located in Zack’s car where he found McCann slumped in the passenger seat, his life ebbing away. McCann died from a bullet to the heart.

Davis says a change at the prosecutor’s office convinced attorneys to prosecute the case that took two trials to arrive at the guilty verdict.

She never gave up, tracked Stewart online and at his house and fed information to homicide detectives and attorneys.

With a new investigative process put into place three years ago at the Fort Wayne Police Department’s homicide unit under the direction of Sgt. Tim Hughes, Davis is calling for a new push to use the same techniques on homicides from prior years.

Under Hughes direction, the homicide clearance rate has gone from between 40% and 58% between 2015 to 2018 to 86% in 2019 and 83% in 2020.

Just in the last week, the city’s homicide rate skyrocketed to 36, temporarily dropping the clearance rate into the mid-60s, but Hughes says his department isn’t giving up.

“We are actively and aggressively working these cases,” Hughes told WANE-TV Friday.

Some cases close to Davis’ heart include:

  • Alonna Allison, 17, shot dead at a bonfire on Schaper Drive in August 2015;
  • Quinlan Partington, 16, whose body was found dumped on the snow at the Diploma Apartments on the city’s southeast side in February, 2017;
  • Dontay White, 17,shot execution style May 1, 2016 as he sat in the driver’s seat at 9100 block of Brickshire Parkway:
  • and Noele Trice, 26, and Bryan Lash, 29, stabbed to death June 10, 2017 in their home on Weisser Park Avenue.

“We got justice for Codi, but our work isn’t done yet,” Davis says.

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