HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — It’s been 31 years since 7-year-old Jennifer Vereen was hit and killed in Horry County.
Her case, along with dozens of others, remain unsolved in the county. It’s one of the hardest things for a family to have to endure — not receiving closure after their loved one is killed. But Vereen’s sister isn’t giving up hope. She believes eventually her family will receive the closure they most desperately want.
The tragic accident happened February 7, 1990, in front of the family’s home on Highway 905 near Rhodes Road in Conway. Lacey Davis was only 2 years old, when her sister Vereen, 7 was killed.
“She was crossing the street to get back to my mom when the rain started,” Davis explained.
Decades later and the family still has no idea who is responsible for Jennifer’s death.
“It was extremely hard — especially being a child — they always say the parents are supposed to outlive the child,” Davis explained. “Of course it was a hard hit.”
The Horry County Police Department (HCPD) re-opened the case in March, but a spokesperson said previous leads dried up, and still no arrests. The only common tip, the car that struck Jennifer was a dark-color sedan.
“Sometimes we get contacted by the community and we get tips and leads and that will prompt a case to be reopened,” said Detective Ken Marcus, Criminal Investigations Division with Horry County Police Department.
Detective Marcus is the sole person currently handling all types of unsolved cases in Horry County. But it wasn’t always this way.
“Initially when the team was generated there were the thoughts of having more than one detective, maybe a few civilian personnel, however due to some staffing issues the last couple of years, Covid,” Detective Marcus explained, “it’s only one of us at the moment.”
Detective Marcus recruits help as needed, sometimes from retired law enforcement officers. He’s currently exploring two cases. One includes a man who was found in a pool at a hotel in the North Myrtle Beach area.
“No identification, no room key, anything about him that would give us an idea of who he is, and we don’t have any reason to believe that there was any type of foul play involved with his death,” Marcus said.
Horry County officials say since 1976, 45 homicides remain unsolved. Add unsolved missing persons cases and other crimes and that number quickly spikes. Marcus weighs several factors in reopening a case.
“An anniversary of an incident and sometimes the case has been closed for a while and we reopen it just to see if there’s been any new leads generated if technology has changed. Anything we potentially couldn’t do 10 years ago, but we can do now,” Marcus stresses.
Bottom line, this isn’t a quick process. Detective Marcus says it takes time.
“Sometimes people may have seen something on a particular day and not realize that it’s part of a criminal investigation,” Detective Marcus said. “Or they may have seen something that will give us a lead that would connect a lot of facts on one side of the board that we have with the facts on the other side of the board and that one little piece can tie all of that together. “
However, for Vereen’s family, their patience is wearing thin.
“I honestly believe that somebody knows something, and I would hate keeping a secret like that all,” Davis said.
She told News13 her parents died without knowing who killed their daughter. To help ease the pain, Davis, her aunts, and extended family focus on the positive memories.
“That’s the only way she would have had it — is happiness, she was happy, she was energetic, full of life,” Davis said.
Every year on Jennifer’s birthday, the family releases balloons and celebrate her memory in the area where she lost her life. Anyone with information on her death is asked to call authorities at 843-915-TIPS.