Thanks to helpful witnesses, MPD make arrest in old homicide case

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A young mother was killed, and police knew who did it, but the murderer managed to stay under the radar for almost two years. An arrest was eventually made through the combination of an observant neighbor, good police work and a little luck.

The struggle for a woman's purse was followed by police tape off Holton and Concordia.

It is possible the man responsible for a murder in the area might still be on the street if it weren't for at least two witnesses and two crime scenes that spanned two years, and many tears.

The family of Diamaris Gonzalez made a public plea to find her killer.

Back in March of 2011, Gonzalez was waiting at a bus stop when two men, including 23-year-old Lenard Pickett approached.

"They were predators looking for victims to rob. They found a victim in Ms. Gonzalez," Detective Rodolfo Gomez said.

"The shooter shot her once in the chest,"  Lieutenant Jeffrey Norman said.

Then, the accused robbers vanished, as police began to investigate.

Detective Rodolfo Gomez says a person at the scene told police Pickett was the gunman, but finding him was the challenge.

Months went by, and nearly two years passed with an accused murderer on the loose. Then, a break-in on the city's south side led to a break in the case.

A neighbor in the area of 24th and Orchard thought he saw a burglary in progress. The call about a smaller crime turned into a big lead.

"What you might think is small and insignificant is huge to an investigation for a detective in Milwaukee homicide. Even though it took almost two years, we never forgot and we never gave up," Lieutenant Norman said.

Two incidents that were separated by almost two years brought an arrest and some closure for the victim's mother -- all made possible by witnesses speaking up.

"You can never be truly at peace when your child is murdered, but she was grateful to the Milwaukee Police Department and she was great full to those citizens who took action," Detective Gomez said.

Both Pickett and the man he was with the night of the homicide were charged in this case.

Pickett's next scheduled court date is Monday, March 25th.

If convicted of the charges, Pickett faces up to 47 years in prison.