Kimi Jackson and her 7-year-old daughter, Kristyana, had just arrived at their Elkhart, Indiana home when tragedy struck on Friday, August 17, 2012. The two of them had gone to watch a high school football game, and it was around 10:30 pm when Kimi pulled into their driveway. As they headed for their front porch, they were suddenly accosted by three men, all of them brandishing guns.
John Jackson hadn’t gone to the football game with his wife and daughter; he was home with the couple’s infant son when he suddenly heard his wife screaming. He quickly headed outside and was startled to see three men wearing masks rushing towards the front door. His unexpected appearance seemed to rattle the three men, and they immediately opened fire. John was so intent on getting Kimi and Kristyana to safety that he didn’t even realize he had been shot.
Kristyana had been closer to the porch than Kimi, and John reached her first. He grabbed her and ran for the front door as the men continued to fire at him. The men, realizing that the sound of screams and gunfire was beginning to attract attention, seemed to change their minds about getting into the house and ran off into the night.
John had been shot multiple times but managed to stumble into the house with Kristyana. As he got inside, he realized with horror that the little girl had been shot as well. Kimi, who hadn’t yet reached the porch when the men appeared, was unharmed but in shock. She rushed to check on her husband and daughter, and was horrified when she saw their injuries. Fighting hysteria, she called 911 and pleaded for help.
By the time emergency services reached the scene, a large crowd of neighbors had gathered. Paramedics pushed their way through the crowd and quickly realized that Kristyana had been shot once in the head and was in grave condition. John had sustained three gunshot wounds to his upper body; though he was in a lot of pain, none of his vital organs had been hit and his injuries were not life-threatening.
Paramedics worked feverishly to keep Kristyana alive as the ambulance raced to South Bend’s Memorial Hospital. They managed to stabilize her, but her condition was extremely critical. Shortly after she arrived at the hospital, doctors performed emergency brain surgery in an attempt to save her life; she survived the surgery, but her prognosis was not good.
John was also taken to Memorial Hospital where he received treatment for his three wounds but did not have to undergo surgery. Both he and Kimi were clearly still in shock about what had happened, and prayed desperately that their daughter would survive.
Detectives were sent to the hospital to interview both parents, but neither John nor Kimi had any idea who the gunmen had been nor why they had been targeted. The men who attacked them had been wearing masks, making it impossible for the victims to describe what they looked like, but they didn’t believe it had been anyone they knew or would recognize. Up until that Friday night, their lives had been perfectly normal; neither was involved in any kind of activity that would have made them a target for such a violent act.
John and Kimi had been together for more than a decade and were the proud parents of two children, Kristyana and her eight-month-old brother. John worked in a local factory and Kimi was a hairdresser; they spent most of their free time at home with their kids.
Kimi told detectives she and Kristyana had spent the evening at Elkhart Memorial High School’s football game; a relative was on the team and she had taken Kristyana to watch him play while John stayed at home with their son. Nothing unusual had taken place at the game, and their drive home had been uneventful. Kristyana had been the first one out of the car after they got home; she had been heading towards the porch with her mother behind her when three masked men suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere.
Detectives weren’t quite sure what they were dealing with at first, but believed that it had likely been a home invasion gone terribly wrong. It was unclear if the three men had specifically targeted the Jackson house or if it had been a crim*e of opportunity. It was possible they saw Kimi and Kristyana returning home and assumed they would be easy targets, not realizing that John was inside the home at the time.
Doctors continued to fight to save Kristyana’s life, but it soon became clear that the bullet had done irreparable damage and she was declared brain de*ad. Her family was forced to make a heartbreaking decision; after talking it over, they decided to take Kristyana off of life support. They also made the decision to donate her organs; it was a way of ensuring that something positive would result from their terrible tragedy. Two days after she was shot, they said their final goodbyes to their only daughter.
By the next day, hundreds of people from the neighborhood had gathered outside of the Jackson’s home, most of them in tears. None of them could understand why anyone would have wanted to shoot Kristyana, who they described as being a loving and happy little girl who was always smiling. They worried that there were kil*lers loose in the neighborhood; many worried that they might be the next possible victims of a botched home invasion.
Over the next several weeks, detectives conducted hundreds of interviews but made little progress in the case. They had been unable to determine the motive behind the shooting, and they had no suspects or persons of interest. Both police and the family made several public appeals for information; they believed that there were people in the neighborhood who knew exactly who was responsible for the cri*me and pleaded with them to come forward. If anyone knew who the ki*llers were, however, they remained silent.
Although detectives desperately wanted to find the persons responsible for the d*eath of the innocent 7-year-old, they were met with a brick wall of silence from people they believed might have knowledge about the crim*e. As a result, Kristyana’s ki*llers remain unidentified and the mur*der investigation has gone cold.
John and Kimi have expressed anger about the fact that no one has been willing to come forward with information about the case; like police, they believe there are people in the neighborhood who know exactly who is responsible for their daughter’s de*ath. They hope that those with information will eventually decide to do the right thing and provide detectives with the details they need to obtain justice for Kristyana.
Kristyana Jackson was just 7 years old when she was murd*ered in 2012. She was a loving little girl with big dreams for the future, and she had many friends at Mary Daly Elementary School who were devastated by her de*ath. She loved to read, dance, and swim. She had been thrilled when she became a big sister, and she doted on her baby brother. Her life was cut short in a senseless tragedy, and those responsible for her d*eath have never been brought to justice. If you have any information about the mu*rder of Kristyana, please contact the Elkhart Police Department at 574–295–7070 or Crim*e Stoppers at 574–342–7867. There is a reward offered for information leading to the arrest of Kristyana’s k*illers.