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Murdered Young Father: Family hoping for justice 17 years after Colorado Springs killing

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Kay Crawford will tell her son's story to anyone who will listen. Her beloved first-born came into this world nearly 40 years ago, but was taken from her days before his 23rd birthday.

Crawford remembers her son learned to read around the age of four, before he started school. She called him an intelligent, articulate, and loving person. She said he wanted to be a lawyer.

Crawford said she remembers Joshua begging for a little brother. He was so excited when his little brother, Matthew, and then his little sister, Gabrielle, joined their family.

"He played somewhat of a father role to us, being a big brother" Gabrielle Delaney said.

Around the age of 18, Josh became a father himself -- to light of his life, a little girl named Tahjarae.

"Look just like him! Hair just like him, eyes just like him, smile just like him," Crawford said.

With a promising future ahead of him, Josh got into some trouble after high school. He ended up spending a stint in prison for drugs.

"That's okay. He's still my son. I love him," Crawford said, adding how much potential her son had.

On June 15th, 2005, Crawford said she had a pipe burst in her home. Josh came over to help and was all dressed up. She remembers joking with him about how he looked that night, before she gave him a kiss and he went out with friends.

"At four o'clock that morning, my doorbell is ringing," Crawford remembers, saying two detectives were standing at her door with her younger son, Matthew. At first, she remembers thinking Matthew had gotten into trouble.

"[The detective] says to me, 'Miss Crawford, your son was involved in an accident. And he didn't make it,'" Crawford was confused at first, saying she thought they were talking about Matthew, but he was clearly standing in front of her.

Later, she found out Matthew had been coming home when he saw a crime scene. He got closer to the scene to figure out what was happening, and found out it was his own brother's murder scene. He went with detectives to his mom's house to deliver the news.

"My son was shot four times. Once in the head. Once in the chest. Once in the lower chest. Then, once in the kidney. They say each shot was fatal," Crawford said. "I didn't believe it. I couldn't believe, I couldn't believe somebody did that to my child -- not my child."

She remembers going up to the crime scene, which the CBI lists as being at the Platinum 25 nightclub on Jetwing Drive. She said she started asking around, trying to figure out what happened.

"The police asked me 'Miss Crawford. Please let us conduct our investigation.' I'm not stopping you from conducting your investigation -- but I'm going to conduct mine. We're talking about my son now," Crawford said.

She still couldn't believe he was gone, she said she had to see him for herself.

"The police begged me. 'You don't want to go see his body, Miss Kay.' Oh, yes, I do," Crawford remembers. "Even though I saw a hole with stippling marks around the side of his head. The look on his face was... he was relaxed. He wasn't scared. He wasn't fearful. I'm still glad to this day that I went and saw my son's body and the look on his face. It gave me peace."

Crawford carried that small bit of peace with her all these years later, it's helped her raise Josh's only child.

"She'll be 21 this year, doing very good," Crawford beamed. "[She's] got her own place, got her own car, pays her bills -- actually helps me out sometimes. That's Josh's baby. That's what he left me. I will forever and always be proud of her."

Gabrielle remembers how much Josh loved Tahjarae, and how proud he would be to see her today.

"He's definitely living through her, you know, every day and I just see it," Gabrielle said. "To me, that's his legacy he's instilling in his daughter, you know, and just to see that growing in her every day, and he's not even here."

Crawford and Delaney are pleading with the community to come forward if they know anything that could help solve Josh's murder.

"It will be 17 years this year. All it takes, all it would take [is] for one person knows and was there at the club right up the street my son was murdered at -- to come forward," Crawford said through tears.

Crawford told KRDO that she believes she knows who is behind her son's murder, but she's waiting for those who know the truth to finally give her family closure, even if it's terrifying to come forward to police.

"I understand that fear because we're dealing with murderers, killers," Crawford said.

"Somebody knows something," Gabrielle said. "I just couldn't live with myself, knowing that I knew something that ended somebody's life... just not coming forward to somebody? It's just not right or fair to me."

If you know anything that might help solve Josh's murder, you can contact Colorado Springs Police by clicking here. If you want to remain anonymous, you can report any tips to Pikes Peak Crime Stoppers by calling 719-634-STOP (719-634-7867) or by clicking here.

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Sydnee Scofield

Sydnee is a Senior Reporter and Weekend Anchor for KRDO NewsChannel 13. You can learn more about her here.

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