DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) – Three months ago, Flora Malone spoke with CSI Atlanta about her fight to find her daughter, Vanessa ‘Honey’ Malone’s killer.
In 2012, the 18-year-old was killed after going to a friend’s house in Stone Mountain.
“I just want to wake up and hear the phone ring and a detective calling me saying we got him. We got him,” she told CSI Atlanta’s anchor Karyn Greer.
Flora Malone finally got that call.
On Friday, DeKalb County Police arrested 35-year-old Donald Ashe and charged him with second-degree murder in connection to her death.
Police said Ashe was one of several people inside the apartment that night.
After years of frustration and grief, justice finally feels in sight for Malone, and her oldest daughter, Cassaundra Kennedy.
"I’m just grateful that I'm alive to see this coming because I worried about that sometimes that it just...wouldn't happen,” she said.
Police said Ashe was taken into custody at his mother’s Stone Mountain home without incident.
“We do believe that multiple people are responsible for this crime and the investigation is ongoing,” said lead detective, Sgt. Lynn Shuler. “We hope more arrests will follow.”
CSI Atlanta helps family fight for justice
CSI Atlanta worked with Honey's family and police for months to keep her case in public view.
“I believe that's what helped really solve the case,” said Kennedy. “I think you guys pushing the detectives and the DeKalb County Police department.”
CSI Atlanta shared new leads with DeKalb police, introduced them to the M-Vac system – a new forensic technology revolutionizing DNA collection
and brought Honey's story before a national audience last month on the Dr. Oz show in New York.
“They took the evidence that we have identified, the means of how we said you can extract DNA and today they got a hit. They made an arrest,” said CBS46 crime scene investigator, Sheryl ‘Mac’ McCollum.
Mac said Ashe's arrest could finally lead to answers.
“That's been the whole thing for her momma, why?” said Mach. “Why would Honey be the only one hurt in that apartment. No one else was even slapped. But she's shot twice. And she deserves to know why.”
Honey’s murder case grows cold
Details surrounding honey's murder remain a mystery. Her case grew cold quickly after witnesses refused to cooperate with police.
DeKalb Police maintain Honey was ambushed after interrupting an armed robbery.
But her family doesn't believe that.
“We want to know what really happened that night in that apartment,” Kennedy said.
On October 23, 2012, Honey went to hang out at a friend's apartment, next door to her Stone Mountain home.
According to police, before Honey arrived, several masked gunmen kicked in the door.
They tied up Honey’s two friends who were inside the apartment and put them in the bathroom.
“We looked at the physical evidence on the scene and everything suggests it was a home robbery that she interrupted,” Shuler said.
Shuler won't say what role he thinks Ashe played in Honey's murder and is tight-lipped on what evidence led to his arrest.
“It was a culmination of reviewing the case file and looking at new evidence,” he said.
Ashe’s lengthy criminal record
Ashe's was charges with second degree murder and concealing facts. He’s previously served time for aggravated assault and armed robbery.
Malone said Ashe goes by the nickname ‘Mercy’ and was an acquaintance of Honey's.
She pressed Ashe several times for answers about that night, and later pressured police to investigate him further.
“He never agreed to meet with me in person. He never would,” she said.
As Honey’s family waits for the truth, Malone said she still has work to do.
“I have two jobs left,” she said. “One to get her justice, and one to keep her memory alive.”