HOUSTON -- As in all games, in life there are wins and there are losses. Barbara Mcilveen knows that sometimes they can happen in the same moment.
Today she can watch her grandson, Tennessee Titan Nate Washington play wide receiver because of a brutal act of selfishness and a young woman’s act of generosity.
Her name was Amanda Fleetwood.
“Because of Amanda I am still here,” Mcilveen said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s bittersweet.”
It was July 10, 2004.
“The worst day of our lives,” Amanda’s stepmother Anne Fleetwood told the KHOU 11 News I-Team. “I still expect her to walk through the door.”
20-year-old Amanda and her friend Jonathan had gone to a specialty store near Richmond and Dunvale to buy cigarettes. It was morning.
Afterward, the two friends stood outside the business, talking, when security cameras show that a man walked up.
It doesn’t look like a threatening scenario,” said Ryan Sullivan with Crime Stoppers of Houston.
“What the surveillance video shows, is three people that are conversing, having a good time talking to each other and spending time together.”
But then the tape shows the three of them climbing into Jonathan’s car, the unknown man in the back seat. Later police would learn, the man had asked them for a ride home and they obliged.
Yet it was a simple act of kindness that turned out to be a deadly mistake.
As they pulled up to the man’s supposed apartment complex, he pulled out a gun, and shot both Amanda and Johnnie in the back of the head.
“He fired his weapon needlessly,” Sullivan said.
But Sullivan says robbery doesn’t seem to have been the motive.
“He never announced himself. He never threatened the victim with the weapon,” Sullivan said. “He just fired the weapon.”
In fact, police report that when the killer noticed that Jonathan had survived the first two gunshots, he said “Oh, it looks like you need another one.” So he shot Jonathan again in the head.
Jonathan survived that third bullet and even managed to start the car and drive away from the crime scene, until finally, he crashed.
Ultimately the young man lived through the crime, but Amanda’s father Dan Fleetwood says what happened has changed him.
“Even though he survived, it’s never going to be the same,” Fleetwood said.
But 20-year-old Amanda wasn’t as lucky. After several days at a local hospital, she died.
“He took my baby for absolutely no reason. He took the life of my child,” Fleetwood said.
Instead, both parents were left with a legacy of unanswered questions and burning anger.
“This guy is possibly still walking our streets and could be doing this to more people,” said Amanda’s stepmother. “I want a name. A name makes it real.”
But even in their loss came a gain because at that time Barbara Mcilveen was battling liver cancer.
“I was very, very, very ill,” Mcilveen said.
The only solution was a transplant, a new liver from an organ donor that turned out to be Amanda Fleetwood.
Amanda’s final act has pulled both families together.
“I am proud that Amanda is living on. I am so proud,” said Anne Fleetwood.
“I think it was divine intervention,” Mcilveen said. “It was just as if we were meant to be together.”
And now, Mcilveen works to publicize Amanda’s case anyway she can.
It is all in the small hope that she can repay Amanda’s family with justice for their daughter.
“It would be some closure for them that this man is going to pay for what they did to their child,” Mcilveen said.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.