TULSA — When she first saw a photo of the skull, Deonna Williams knew it was her stepson.
Eighteen-year-old Khyre Campbell went missing Dec. 29, 2012. Even after posting fliers, knocking on doors and reporting his disappearance to Tulsa police, Campbell’s family didn’t hear word of his whereabouts until October 2013.
That’s when some children playing near Gilcrease Hills in northwest Tulsa stumbled upon a skull with at least one bullet hole in it. Police soon found more remains nearby and identified them as belonging to the missing teen.
Closure continues to evade Williams as the investigation surrounding her stepson’s death drags on. Williams said family members regularly check in and try to share leads with Tulsa police but are frustrated by what seems like a lack of progress.
“To me, I don’t think they care,” Williams said. “It’s one less black guy thug on the street they have to worry about.”
Although Williams knew her stepson had been in trouble in the months leading up to his disappearance, his death still came as a shock.
At 5 feet tall, Campbell, the youngest of 10 siblings, was the “little guy” and baby of the family. Ask relatives about Campbell and they’ll describe a spirited young man who loved shoe shopping and showing off new dance moves.
Williams said her stepson was always the first to help around the house. He gave her no reason to worry until high school.
Then, days skipping classes and hanging out with the wrong crowd led to months of winding up on people’s bad lists and getting into altercations with police.
“Being that he was the little guy, he wanted to fit in with everybody, and I just think he succumbed to peer pressure,” Williams said. “He just couldn’t push himself away from that crowd.”
Campbell attended McLain High School in north Tulsa. Javion Beavers, one of Campbell’s half brothers, sees the school and the area as part of his younger brother’s problems.
“If you go to McLain, you know it’s going to be a bad crowd, not a good, positive crowd,” said Beavers, 22.
He isn’t surprised the case remains unsolved.
“Police already knew who Khyre was. They knew what he was doing,” Beavers said. “When he did pass away, I knew they weren’t really going to care.”
Campbell isn’t the first shooting victim Beavers has known, making his half brother’s death especially hard. He said it’s not uncommon to hear about a friend or acquaintance getting killed.
“I lost a cousin the same year Khyre went missing,” Beavers said. “It took a toll on me. I’ve got a cousin who’s gone, a brother. It’s hard.”
Another half brother, Jarrod Hubbard, 23, regrets not spending more time with Campbell. Hubbard, who went to high school in Sand Springs, thinks being there for Campbell as a positive, older role model could have helped him.
Hubbard said he knows Campbell faced challenges at McLain High School that he avoided by being in Sand Springs. He wonders what would have happened if Campbell had lived in someplace different.
“He had fallen into the wrong crowd, but he wasn’t a bad kid,” Hubbard said. “It’s just a product of your environment. That’s what it all comes down to. The people that don’t have the strength to say ‘no,’ they need help the most.”