NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — It’s been more than 12 years since Paul Vasconcellos Jr. was shot and killed outside his Rochester home.

The New Bedford native was returning home from a church function in October 2010 when he was shot in the chest.

Vasconcellos Jr. lived long enough to call for help, but the 40-year-old died before he could describe his attacker to investigators.

Detectives determined his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong, but to this day, neither of his parents are convinced their son was randomly attacked.

“Why would somebody hate him so much that they would want to extinguish his life?” his mother Mary Jane Vasconcellos questioned. “We just don’t understand.”

Rochester Police Investigator Thomas Cassidy tells 12 News detectives never recovered Vasconcellos Jr.’s driver’s license and the money he had on him at the time of the deadly encounter.

Cassidy said one witness spotted a hooded man running away from where Vasconcellos Jr. was shot. But with no surveillance cameras nearby, detectives couldn’t verify the account.

There was a string of similar robberies in and around Rochester at the time, which gave investigators hope that justice would be served.

But an arrest was never made.

“We’ve had tips, and even other people arrested for similar crimes that have been prosecuted and have actually gone to prison who wouldn’t talk about this,” Cassidy said. “There were thoughts in our heads like, ‘Oh boy, this is a similar crime, maybe this could be the same person.’ But that person would never talk.”

Despite this, Cassidy remains hopeful that the department will one day receive a tip that cracks the case wide open.

“The person that did this is likely not the only one that knows about this,” he said. “There’s probably other people that have information out there, and that would be what would solve something like this.”

Vasconcellos grew up in New Bedford and went on to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Despite being more than 400 miles away from home, Rochester is where he decided to plant his roots.

Every year since his son’s death, Paul Vasconcellos Sr. treks up to Rochester in hopes that one day, he’ll uncover what really happened to his son.

“People might think I’m going to let this go,” he said. “I’m not … not until the day I die.”

In an effort to drum up new leads, Vasconcellos Sr. suggested the department create a deck of cold case playing cards. (Rhode Island and Massachusetts have launched similar statewide decks.)

“It was his idea and he really pushed hard for it,” Cassidy said of Vasconcellos Sr.

Cassidy said the department’s major crimes unit has created two different decks, featuring 52 victims each, over the last couple of years.

Vasconcellos Jr. is the ace of hearts in the first edition.

Anyone with information regarding Vasconcellos Jr.’s death is asked to contact the Rochester Police Department at (585) 428-6720. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the Crime Stoppers Hotline.

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