Families remind their killed loved ones are not a number
Families of victims’ of unsolved homicide gather at City-County Building to remember their loved ones and seek justice and change.
Kelly Wilkinson, Indianapolis Star
Dusty Lawrence preferred a $5 meal at Cici’s Pizza over a 5-star Italian dinner after Sunday night church.
He joined Little League and Cub Scouts as a kid and kayaked in the lakes of Arkansas. His uncle, Jeff Rector, taught him how to drive stick shift.
“He was just a good kid,” his uncle said. “He didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody. Unless you were a Patriots fan.”
On March 28, Lawrence drove from his Anderson home into a deadly trap on the far east side of Indianapolis to sell items he posted on Facebook Marketplace.
The would-be buyers shot Lawrence while his pregnant wife, Betsy, and 5-year-old daughter, Madisyn, were in the blue Chevrolet. The person gave a bad address and “set him up,” Rector said.
How the bullets spared Betsy and Madisyn was a miracle, his family believes.
“(The shooter) knew what they were gonna do,” Jeff’s wife, April Rector, said.
Betsy called 911. But being from out of town and in an unfamiliar place, she didn’t know where she was.
Rector said two women in the neighborhood rushed to help and directed law enforcement to the 3700 block of Rinehall Drive. The good Samaritans kept tabs on the shooting in the days after and read in an obituary that the couple was expecting their second child.
They brought boxes of diapers and baby wipes to the funeral.
Indianapolis police have made no arrests in the case. Officials with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department declined to say whether investigators have suspects, citing an ongoing investigation.
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“It was kind of an emotional roller coaster,” said Jeff Rector, who lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas. “You don’t think about things like buying a (burial) plot when someone is that age.”
He may have been their nephew, but he was more like a son, April Rector said.
She raised Lawrence in Jonesboro through his years in kindergarten and first grade — his “rotten burger” phase, as she describes them.
“But I’d do it all over again,” April Rector insists.
Before every family gathering during that time, Jeff Rector would ponder what Lawrence would break that day.
Lawrence returned to his home state of Indiana and enrolled in, but didn’t graduate from Anderson High School.
He wanted to return to where he built bonfires with his cousins in Arkansas. April Rector said she gave him two options if he wanted to do so: graduate or get his GED.
The couple took Lawrence in again when he turned 18 in 2009.
He earned his GED at Valley View High School in Jonesboro. The same year, he told April Rector that he wanted to be “saved” and baptized at Central Baptist Church.
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Soon after graduation, Jeff Rector brought him to the National Guard recruiting center and signed him up for and later graduated from basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia.
“I was just proud to see him molded into a man (that day),” Jeff Rector said. He got emotional seeing his former “rotten burger” nephew turned military graduate on stage.
Jeff Rector said he couldn’t help but get misty-eyed at the Fort Benning graduation, and again at his nephew’s wedding 11 years later.
Lawrence married his now-wife in July after dating several years. The couple were married less than a year when Lawrence was killed.
“It tugged at my heart just to see the love he had, and to see his love for his daughter,” Jeff Rector said.
April Rector calls Madisyn, born in 2015, a “little Dusty.” The family hosted Lawrence and his cousins one summer night and set up an outdoor movie theater. Lawrence sat slightly away from the others on a lawn chair with his AirPods nestled in his ears.
“What are you listening to?” April Rector recalls someone asking Lawrence.
“The Democrats,” Madisyn retorted. Indeed, April Rector said, Lawrence was probably most known to jump on any chance to talk politics.
Lawrence’s second daughter is due in July. Her first name will be Peyton, spelled and named after his favorite former Indianapolis Colts player.
The 30-year-old had plenty of known qualities. The Rectors said he was most intentional about spending time with family.
“I think growing up, not knowing who his dad was, (Lawrence) wanted to be different,” Jeff Rector said. “He didn’t want to be that way. Sometimes kids turn out differently in those situations. He was all about being a good daddy.”
Contact Sarah Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-503-7514.
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