LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- So far this year, there have been 39 murders in Little Rock. At this time last year, that number was 19.
While a lot of focus has been put on the most recent homicides, for the families of those killed last year, and years past, their search for justice never stops. THV11 sat down with one of those families Thursday as they keep fighting to find their father's killer.
Jesus Pena was robbed and murdered last November, while at work. Since then, around 50 other people in Little Rock have been killed. While Jesus' story may have been pushed to the back of many people's minds, as that number climbs, his loss is a wound that hurts his family every single day.
It's your average busy August afternoon in the Midtown Shopping Center. People are shopping and enjoying lunch. For Lupe Pena's family, this part of town will forever haunt them. Steps from the shopping center, her father was brutally murdered.
"I'm here in front of the apartment where my dad was murdered. This is agonizing. This is the last place that a hardworking man walked up these stairs,” said Lupe.
It's the first time Lupe has visited the apartment since November, when her family allowed us to come with them to pray. Jesus Pena was shot dead as he protected the lives of a woman and her daughter who were helping him renovate the apartment. The killer got away with petty cash, and Pena's life.
"He's in a better place. He's passed on he's no longer in pain. You can have that in your heart, in your mind, but he's still missing," she said.
Missing and missing out on important family moments with his four children and grandchildren.
"My dad being missing at my brother's wedding was agonizing. He needed to be there," Lupe said.
Instead, her father's killer is on the loose, and has been since November 23, when police were on a man-hunt looking for what witnesses described as a black man wearing all black.
"I can't help but wonder, is it the same young man. Is he still out there hurting other families," Lupe asked.
As the number of homicides climb, the eldest daughter and rock of the family worries, her father's memory fades.
"It's easy to see the news and go 'that stinks, another homicide,’ but to us, it's not just another homicide. Could this be the same person murdering other people and it hasn't been connected," she said.
Despite the fact there were two eye-witnesses and neighbors that saw the suspect's face, Little Rock police said there are no updates to the case.
"To the man that murdered my father, I pray for you every single day because you've taken our peace. You've taken a piece of our family, but I know you're not at peace either for what you did. Please come forward. Please don't let us continue to agonize,” Lupe said.
The Pena family has put together a $5,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest. If you have any information on Jesus Pena's murder, or any of Little Rock's other homicides, call police.
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