NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Five years after a woman was murdered in a violent carjacking in Madison, her family remains hopeful her killer will be caught.
"She was really funny. She was always joking. She knew how you make you laugh," said Lacuana Carter, Maria Brown's sister. "She loved her nieces and nephews. She loved her family."
Maria Brown's family affectionately called her "Ree." They said she was a Nashville native who was very close with her family.
Metro Police said on Jan. 15, 2018, around 11 p.m., Maria Brown, 29, and a friend were going to visit a family member at the Highland Cove Apartments on Due West Avenue North in Madison. While they were sitting in the car, a man with a gun walked up and demanded money. When they told him they didn't have any, he shot into the car and hit Brown. He then threw both women out of the car and stole it. Brown was taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center where she later died.
Police recovered Brown's 2005 grey Nissan Altima just over a day later on Sennadale Lane. The location is about 3 miles from the apartment complex.
"Based on the investigation so far, it appears this was a random attack, or a crime of opportunity," said Detective Matthew Filter with the Metro Police Department's Cold Case-Homicide/Missing Persons Unit. "The car was processed and we did collect DNA evidence and fingerprints from the car. "
Filter said the initial description of the suspect was a man who was about 5'8'' tall with a slender build. He was wearing a grey hoodie when he approached Brown's car. Filter said no witnesses from the apartment complex have come forward, and police want to speak to anyone who knows anything about the crime.
"There’s always hope that you are going to get the case resolved," said Filter. "All it takes is just being able to develop that one lead to identify a suspect."
A couple of days after Brown's death, a large group of family and friends gathered to remember her at a vigil. Her family also put together a video celebrating her life, and called for "justice for Ree."
"She was a hard worker and she had a big heart," said Brian Toran, Jr., Brown's brother. "She always wanted to make sure everyone was okay."
Toran said after five years of waiting, he wants to remind the community this case is unsolved. He remains hopeful a break in the case will come soon.
"You never want to lose hope all the way," said Toran. "You always want to know eventually it will get solved, and we will get justice for her."
Anyone with information about Maria Brown's murder is asked to contact the Metro Police Department Cold Case Unit at 615-862-7803 or Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous.