My Father's Bones: Lead Detective and Victim's Mother Form an Unlikely Friendship

Categories: Crime
britton-carlson.jpg
Courtesy of Judy Carlson
Carlson, right, with Barbara Britton, now accused of murder.
A few minutes before I met Pembroke Pines Detective Donna Velazquez for the first time, she sent me a text message: "I have asked the victim's mother, Judy Carlson, to join us." We were meeting to discuss the murder of David Jackson, which eventually became the center of a feature story published last week.

As a reporter, I was more than happy to meet two people in one meeting, including the woman who had made a quest for justice for her son's murder the focus of her life for the past 20 years. But I didn't realize how close of a friendship the two women had formed over their mutual desire to see Jackson's killers put behind bars.

I met with Carlson on Mother's Day at a pancake restaurant. By the time we had ordered our breakfast, she had traded 15 text messages that morning with Velazquez. The detective is also a mother, and she says her sympathy for "just needing to know where your child is" motivated her, eight years ago, to take up Jackson's case with a level of care and determination that was personal as well as professional.

In her box of photos of her son, Carlson keeps a picture of Velazquez and her family. During the early days of Velazquez's investigation, the two women would go out for sandwiches in Hollywood after meeting to discuss the case.

At the start of the trial of Michael Wolfe, accused in 2004 of firing the shots that killed Jackson, the defense attorney saw the two women sitting together and argued that it was improper. The judge agreed.

Still, the women's friendship continues. Carlson wants people to know what happened to her son. Velazquez, certain of the results of her investigation, convinced of who should serve time for the murder, waits along with her for another possible conviction.

Read the full story here.


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