FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Chandra Akerblom will never forget the moment she learned her half brother had been killed.
“My ears just rang and the world just fell out from underneath me,” Akerblom said. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t breathe … everything was just godawful.”
It was an unseasonably warm day in February 2011 when 25-year-old Vincent Wadlington’s body was found in Fall River.
Fall River Police Detective Adam Talbot tells 12 News someone walking their dog spotted Wadlington sprawled across the railroad tracks near the intersection of Durfee and Odd streets.
“They came across what they believed to be a dead body,” Talbot said.
Talbot said at first, it didn’t appear that Wadlington’s untimely death was suspicious.
It wasn’t until detectives took a closer look that they realized he had been stabbed several times, and his death was ruled a homicide.
Wadlington’s final hours paint a mysterious picture.
The night before his body was discovered, Wadlington called police and expressed concern about the wellbeing of an ex-girlfriend.
Talbot said Wadlington made that phone call from a friend’s apartment, and officers drove him from there to a convenience store at the corner of North Main Street and President Avenue.
It was the last time Wadlington was seen alive.
Talbot said Wadlington walked to nearby Brownell Street and rang his sister’s doorbell later that night, but no one answered.
“It appears that she just decided not to open it,” Talbot said. “I don’t think she was aware who was ringing it at the time.”
The next morning, Wadlington’s belongings were found abandoned on her front steps. Her brother was nowhere to be found.
Investigators don’t believe Wadlington made any additional calls that night, and there were no reported sightings of him past 10 p.m.
Even surveillance video from surrounding businesses doesn’t definitively capture Wadlington, with Talbot describing the footage as “low quality at best.”
This left detectives with few clues as to what happened between the time he rang his sister’s doorbell to the time he was found dead.
James Wadlington, Vincent’s father, tells 12 News all he could do was scream when he learned what had happened to his son.
“I was laying down in bed when his girlfriend called me,” James recalled. “She said, ‘Did you hear that Vinny was killed?’ and I said, ‘Stop [expletive] playing with me.'”
It wasn’t until he drove to Fall River to identify his son’s body and speak with detectives that he realized his son was gone.
Vincent’s death has been tormenting his large family for nearly 13 years. James described his son as an incredibly talented artist who had a passion for drawing and tattooing.
Though he was a “good kid,” James said his son had his demons.
“He wasn’t [an] angel,” he said, adding that his son struggled with substance abuse.
Even though it’s been more than 13 years since his son’s death, James said the pain never eases.
“[People] don’t know how we really feel or what we’re going through,” James said. “They say it gets better, but it [doesn’t] get better.”
“Every day, every year, we expect to hear from our child,” he continued. “I sit and wait for that phone call that never happens … and tears come to my eyes. I’ve been mad at the world, but now I just want to know what really happened to my son.”
Akerblom first met her half brother when she was 16 years old. She will always remember how he went out of his way to connect with her.
“He was the first person to find me,” she recalled. “It wasn’t awkward [meeting him] … it was like a missing piece that we both found.”
When asked what she misses the most about Vincent, her answer was simple.
“Him annoying me,” Akerblom said. “The normal sibling stuff you take for granted.”
“He was loud,” she continued. “Even though he was shorter than me, he was loud.”
Though she acknowledged her brother “was not a saint,” Akerblom described Vincent as a goofball who would do anything for his family and could make anyone smile.
Akerblom tells 12 News she remains hopeful that whoever killed Vincent will come forward.
“It’s gone past grieving to the point where I’m just angry,” Akerblom said. “I just want to know why.”
“I don’t know how [someone has been] walking around living with this,” she said, speaking of her half brother’s killer. “That’s a long time to be living with something like that … it’s a crime, so go serve your time.”
Talbot said detectives have pursued numerous leads and persons of interest, but all of them have been positively ruled out. Detectives have yet to identify additional suspects, and it’s unclear whether the person who killed Vincent actually knew him.
“Unfortunately, this [investigation] will come down to somebody coming forward with information that maybe they’ve been harboring for all this time,” Talbot said.
“I just want closure for our family, and to move forward,” Akerblom added.
Anyone with information regarding Vincent’s death is urged to contact the Fall River Police Department at (508) 676-8511. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling (508) 672-TIPS (8477).