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Her son is never too far from Sharon Brown.

On her coffee table is a small box that opens to pictures of her late son, Eric Woulard, on one side and his son, Eric Jr., on the other.

Her front closet is a shrine. Brown gave away some of her son's clothing to others wanting to remember him. But she kept a hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with cartoon character Wile E. Coyote.

"He was so happy when he got it," she recalled recently. "I didn't believe he'd wear it. [Here's] a cartoon character -- and from back in my day. But when I think of it, he was just a baby. He was only 21."

On the night of June 16, 2007, Woulard was shot to death in his mother's van while parked in the 600 block of Van Buren Avenue in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood. The case now has the distinction of being the city's last unsolved homicide of 2007, and both the mother and police think you should know more about it.

"I guess I think it's kind of a story that people aren't aware of," said Senior Cmdr. Tim Lynch, who heads the department's homicide unit.

Brown, who believes the killer is being protected by a "code of silence" on the streets, has been active since the night her son died. She appeared at a vigil on the two-year anniversary of his death and attended a news conference last year with other mothers who'd lost loved ones to violence.

This year, on Jan. 21, a day after news broke that authorities had cracked a 2007 triple-homicide case, Brown went to police headquarters again, just as she has done at least twice a year since June 2007, seeking to put pressure on the cops. Again, she brought along her granddaughter, Trinity Woulard, 2, and again, her message to police was the same: "I want my baby's case solved," she said. Trinity was born after her father was killed.

She spoke with reporters, too, as part of her crusade to solicit the public's help in solving the case. She noted how a friend of Woulard's was arrested a few days after the shooting but was released without charges. And she wondered why potential witnesses to her son's death haven't spoken with police.

"I ask, 'Who are his friends now?'" she said. "Why doesn't somebody step forward?"

Brown won't discuss any of Woulard's own transgressions, including a guilty plea in 2004 to attempted simple robbery and an altercation in the family's home in 2005 that ended with police being called.

"I don't see how it has anything to do with his murder," she said.

What people ought to know, Brown said, is that her son planned to study at St. Paul College to be a computer technician, and he hoped, too, to one day secure a real estate license.

As for the murder itself, she said she knows few details beyond those released by police. For now, she added, she figures her son would've preferred it that way.

Her concern, she said, is to know "that the case is being worked on and it's going to be solved. Whatever they want to keep between themselves -- that's fine with me. Just get the job done."

Pain and hope

On the night that Eric Woulard died, his mother had no idea what he was doing or who he was with. But she does remember their final conversation.

"Don't forget, Eric, bring my van," Brown had said.

"I know, Mom, bring your van. I know."

"I love you."

And that was it, she says.

About midnight, a friend arrived to say that her son was hurt and needed her. When she arrived in Frogtown, she still was a block from the van. She ran. The block seemed more like 10 blocks. But she was stopped by a detective and was told she'd gone as far as she could go.

All these people, she thought, all these police. She knew her son was dead.

Today, Brown wonders: So what about all those people? It was a warm night, she said, one of the warmest of the year. People were out and about. "And nobody saw nothing?" she says.

At police headquarters, Lynch said of Brown: "She's in a lot of pain, obviously, still."

A few weeks ago, after the Jan. 21 meeting, it had been Lynch who told a reporter about Brown's trips to police headquarters, and about how she made a point of bringing her son's youngest child: "She'll say, 'I bring this baby on purpose. I want you to remember,'" he said.

To this day, he said, the department still gets tips, still continues to work the case. It even has "a couple good suspects," he said. But Lynch, too, has known the mother's frustrations.

Brown, looking ahead, plans to continue her visits to headquarters and the weekly phone calls to the case's lead investigator. She says her son's killer should not rest easy.

"The St. Paul police -- they're coming," she said. "They're going to get that person. It's just a matter of time."

Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109


Anyone with information about the shooting death of Eric Woulard is asked to call St. Paul police at 651-291-1111.