Mother shares familiar story of son's murder on East Colfax

Posted at 9:57 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 00:31:08-04

DENVER--When news spread that 39 year-old Justin Slyter was shot and killed on East Colfax, two women across town, who never knew him, felt a familiar pain.

Nine months ago, Debra Dorsey and her daughter, Destini Decker, lost their 34 year-old son and brother, Rene Wells. He was also killed in front of the 7-Eleven on East Colfax near Pearl St.

"Shot multiple times and laid in the street," said Dorsey as she recalled what detectives told her.

Dorsey told Denver7 it took detectives 8 hours to confirm to her that it was, in fact, her son who was killed. Over the phone, a detective confirmed it was Wells by identifying a tattoo that read “Mama’s boy” on his neck.

"That was the type of son I had; he was a mama's boy. He loved me like I loved him."

While Dorsey and Decker admit Rene had a criminal past and may have been up to no good the night he was killed, they say he was trying to avoid a fight before he was shot. Wells has served multiple prison terms related to auto theft, according to Dorsey.

But almost a year later, the family still wants justice, and no arrests have been made in the case.

"Someone took him from his mother, someone took him from his daughter and someone took him from me. And that's the moral of the story," said Decker, Wells’ younger sister.

It’s a story that's becoming all too common in the East Colfax part of Denver. Homicides in District 6 increased by 75 percent since last year, according to city and county data.

As of the end of June, seven people have been murdered, compared to four by June 2016.

"If we don't start speaking up pretty soon…it seems like there's a killing every day," said Dorsey.

Community leaders and police got an earful Tuesday as business owners and residents told them they are afraid of the crime and tired of seeing the same characters on East Colfax.

"We are attracting people with mental issues, with addiction. They are very aggressive and its becoming quite problematic," said one resident.

Dorsey doesn't want her son to be just another statistic, but the force that helps turn this block around.

"Go to school, serve the Lord. Do something. But turn your life around and give yourself a chance," said Dorsey.