The case of Michael Rudy Gilmore is still unsolved. Today, family, and friends remember the exceptional young man they loved, as memories of the past and future are all that they have left of the one they still mourn.
“I still think back on the Easter weekend before his death, how close we all were and how happy I was,” aid Michael's mother, Jerline Gilmore. Jerline says she finds it hard to smile these days but is still hopeful that one day Michael's case will see closure.
Today, Michael is remembered as the fun-loving and outgoing person who always had a smile on his face and for his kind spirit and generosity. Michael attended school in the Helena-West Helena School District and graduated from Central High School in 2004 with honors. While in high school, he was a member of the JROTC, and the Central High School football and track teams.
In 2006, Gilmore enrolled at Phillips College where he received an Associate of Arts degree. While at PCCUA, he was employed as a mentor for Camp Run Around and GEAR UP and was always willing to help a participant in need. He then enrolled at ASU where he was majoring in physical education and athletic training with plans to graduate and return home to coach.
Jerline still remembers that fateful phone call that she received on April 16, 2010, marking now three years of waiting with no answers.
“I couldn't sleep at all that week and I prayed to God for rest. Michael told me not to worry but it was like God was telling me something wasn't right,” explained Jerline.
Call it mother's intuition or an unspoken message from a higher power, Jerline finally found rest in the early morning hours but awoke to a horrible nightmare.
“I got a call from his roommate saying Michael had been shot,” recalled Jerline, her eyes filled with tears.
According to ASU campus police, someone called Jonesboro 911 at 12:52 a.m. to report a gunshot in Building 6 at Collegiate Park Apartments, the building where Michael lived.
Police reported that they found Michael lying unconscious on the living room floor of his apartment. He had been shot one time under his right eye with a semiautomatic handgun. Michael was transported by ambulance to the college's convocation center parking lot and then airlifted 70 miles to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.
“When I arrived at the Med, I was met by the chaplain who explained that Michael was on life support and would not survive,” recalled Jerline.
In what was to be Michael's last moments of life, Jerline got in the bed with her middle child, stroked his hair and held his right hand.
“I told him, 'Rudy, Mama is here. It's going to be all right. I love Rudy, if you can hear me squeeze my hand.' And he did. Then he passed.”
Page 2 of 3 - Now, three years later, no arrests have been made and the case has gone cold.
“The police believe that Michael knew the person who killed him and that the motives involved a woman, but no arrest have been made and there are still no answers to my prayers,” continued Jerline.
Campus police Detective Brian Shelton reported that they did have a person of interest but stated that there was not enough evidence to call that person a suspect.
After Michael's passing, representatives of the Mid-South Transplant Foundation asked Jerline if Michael had ever talked about being an organ donor.
“I still remember how that conversation came up,” recalls Jerline. “That Christmas, Michael tossed me on to the bed and then laid down beside me, stroked my hair and held my hand as he announced, 'Mama, I think I'm going to be an organ donor,'” explained Jerline.
Jerline says she questioned Michael's decision but ultimately found comfort in his explanation.
“He said, 'I'm not going to use then when I'm dead, so I should give them to someone who needs them,'” smiled Jerline.
“Michael's decision to becoming an organ donor helped save the lives of 6 individuals that Without his incredible generosity, we may not have gotten the chance to meet these wonderful people that may not have a chance to live,” commented Jerline.
Michael donated his heart, two kidneys, two lungs, and his spleen.
Despite this young man's tragic end, some good has come from his memory.
“Michael began keeping a journal not long after one of his best friends died and in his writing, I found comfort in the young man that was reflected in those pages,” said Jerline.
“Many often wonder the meaning of life,” Michael wrote in one of his journal entries. “The true meaning of life starts with God. Without him there is no U, Me, or Life period. The meaning of my life is to help others. I help ppl (people) dat (that) I know dats (that's) gonna do me in, but I will let God handle dat.”- Michael “Rudy” Gilmore
Jerline firmly believes that Michael's integrity and insightful outlook on life is passed on through his memory as they continue to represent the young man that he was and encourages other young men and women today to follow in his footsteps.
“If Rudy had a quarter and you asked for a dime, he would give you the whole quarter. He would give you the very shirt off his back if you needed it,” stated Jerline.
For the Gilmore family, time has provided some healing but Michael's memory lives on as they continue to help others the way Michael did.
A scholarship has been established in honor of Michael's memory that provides funds raised to an awarded high school senior for his or her college expenses.
Page 3 of 3 - “Every year we hold the Michael Gilmore Memorial Relays at Central High School in honor of him to raise these funds,” explained Jerline.
For the Gilmores', life is bitter sweet as they continue to seek answers for Michael's tragic death. Memories are all that they have left. It's what keeps them going until their questions can be laid to rest.
“All I want to know is why,” states Jerline. The Gilmores hope that with the help of the local newspaper, word of mouth and the annual Gilmore events, that someday someone will have the courage to come forward with any information on this tragic act. “I'm going to continue to talk about him, remembering the good that he brought to our lives and I continue to pray that my family and I will someday find closure and find the answers we continue to seek. I pray nightly, 'don't let me die of a broken heart, help me to find justice.' This was an intentional act of murder and I try to encourage others that may possibly know something, anything to come forward. I don't have my son anymore, I don't get to hear his laugh, his voice, his heart when hugged me,” says Jerline.
The Gilmores continue to pray that the next chapter in their lives will be closure.
“We'll never forget, we won't give up but we just need someone to come forward and admit what they did so that justice can be served,” concluded Jerline.