Ericka Weems was the overall package. She had beauty, a brain and talent. She was funny and outspoken and loved to sing and dance, meaning she was a cheerleader when she was younger. But that’s not all. Erica also had basketball skills.
According to her father, Darrell Weims, when Erica and her siblings grow up, everyone in the house either fights to get to a basketball tournament or is busy studying for an exam.
“All my kids were on the honor roll,”
Erica was the middle child of two siblings, an older sister, Shermain Weims-Reed, and a younger brother, Brandon Weims. Her mother was a family doctor and her father worked in a local factory. Shermain told Datelin that when they were children, Erica could be an annoying little sister, but as she got older, nothing could separate them.
“Erica was my best friend,” Shermain said. “I talked to her every day. Sometimes 10 times a day. “
Erica graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with a degree in Human Development and Family Science. She earned a master’s degree in teaching in 2007. Erica then opened the Recess Child Development Center, a children’s center in Columbus, Ohio.
Her father, Darrell, told Datelin that Erica had always loved children and that children really loved her back.
“I called her when she was looking after a child and she said, ‘Dad, you always call when I put children to sleep,'” he said.
More than six months ago, 37-year-old Erica was living a full life. She returned to her hometown of Akron to be closer to her family. She was working on opening her second daycare center there. All he needed now was the building. Meanwhile, she ran away from home from kindergarten.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Erica to close her original kindergarten in Columbus, but friends say she is relieved to focus on this new chapter in her life.
“Erika was in the happiest place I think I’ve ever seen,” Erika’s friend Christian Ball told Dateline.
Christian explained to Dateline that Erica was excited that she had finally paid off her credit card debt, her home had almost been paid, and she had recently chosen a building for her daycare center.
It is also known that Erika is very involved in her community in Akron. She even helped set up an organization called the Coalition for Young Black Professionals, which provides scholarships for high school students as well as mentoring programs for young adults.
“She was just amazing all around,” Shermain added.
Erika was known by family and friends for being caring and reliable. So, when no one could contact her on November 2, 2020, the day she had to look after a child, her relatives began to worry.
“I just knew it wasn’t like Erica not picking up the phone,” Sister Shermaine told Dateline.
Shermaine and her husband, John Reed, went to Erica’s house on Hardedy Boulevard to check on her. When they arrived, the back door was open. They went inside and found a scary scene. Erika was dead from an obvious gunshot wound, police in Akron will report later. The Summit County Medical Examination Office said in November that her death was being investigated as murder.
It was clear to her relatives that Erika had been killed. What was not clear to anyone who knew Erika might want to hurt her.
“She was so trouble-free that it just made absolutely no sense,” Erica’s friend Christian told Dateline.
It’s hard for family and friends to believe this could be an accidental crime, but it’s even harder to imagine someone they know wants Erica to die. When Darrell heard the news of his daughter’s death, he was heartbroken.
“It was awful,” he told Datelin. “I could not believe it. Who would want to hurt her? ”
Darrell remembers spending time with Erica on Halloween night when they watched Ohio play Penn State together. Darrell told Datelin that Erica had received a phone call and she had told him she was going to see a friend. He said he remembered that night and wondered if things would have been different if he had asked more questions.
“I wish I had pressed her harder,” Darrell told Datelin. “But she’s grown up, so you can’t blame yourself.” But I blame myself. “
That night was the last time he saw his daughter alive.
Erica Shermain’s sister told Datelin that she was worried when she later learned of one of the last text messages Erica had sent before her death. Shermain said the text read: “I opened the door to a stranger in my towel because I thought it was you haha.”
When Shermain finds out about this message, she thinks it’s strange that her sister never told her about this unusual meeting.
“It’s weird that she wouldn’t mention this to me,” Shermain said.
The text message began to raise more questions with the Wims family, who told Dateline that the information had been provided to police for the investigation.
“Why would anyone just knock on your door and be a stranger,” Shermain added.
Six months have passed, but the wounds of Erica’s death are still fresh for the Wims family. Added to this pain is the fear that Erica’s case may remain unsolved. Shermain told Datelin that she was disappointed and confused by what she thought was a lack of communication between law enforcement and the family throughout the investigation.
“She will not be thrown under the bus,” Shermain said. “I know there are a lot of murders in Akron, but she didn’t deserve it.”
Shermain told Datelin that she felt compelled to play a detective in the case of her own sister’s murder. Replay the day she and her husband found Erica’s body and think about the smallest details, looking for anything that could lead to Erica’s killer.
“She’s not going to be exactly like, ‘Oh, she was another black girl killed in her house,'” Shermain said. “You violated her privacy and then killed her.” That’s too much for me. This is not right. “
Lieutenant Michael Miller, a police information officer at the Akron Police Department, gave Dateline this statement regarding the investigation into Erica’s murder:
“The Weems investigation is still ongoing and active. Investigators are working hard to identify the suspects or those involved. Detectives are and will continue to track all reliable leads. Each investigation has its own challenges, some unique to the particular investigation. Although the incident happened months ago, we are committed to resolving the case. “
Back in November, NBA star LeBron James made a public request for information on the case. James was a childhood friend of Erica’s brother, Brandon, who was scout director for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He wrote on Twitter: “AKRON OHIO !! My brother’s sister was killed last weekend at her home! My brother’s family needs answers as to why and from whom. My city, I need you to go to work and find out who did this horrible, shameful, disgusting thing to such a caring, loving angel! “
The Cleveland Cavaliers offer a reward of up to $ 10,000 to anyone who has information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the death of Erica Weims. An additional prize of up to $ 5,000 is also being offered by Summit County District Restricters.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Akron Police Department on 330-374-2490. Callers can remain anonymous.