5 CNY stories from 2017 with unanswered questions
Over the course of a year our newsroom pursues and covers literally hundreds of stories. Some are sad, others are uplifting — but above all else we hope all present some value to you, our viewers.
With each story, we're constantly evaluating whether a story needs a closer look or an extra dose of scrutiny, especially when the story very clearly hasn't concluded. While days, weeks or months may go by between updates on our newscasts or here on our website, we regularly work behind the scenes to gather those updates.
With that in mind, here are five questions related to five stories from 2017 that we are actively pursuing answers to.
1. Who killed Rasheed Baker?
Rasheed Baker, a promising athlete with ties to Jamesville-DeWitt High School and Onondaga Community College, was fatally shot in Syracuse's valley neighborhood on June 5.
“I heard a pop noise, and it is a little sad that in this community we sometimes don’t always react to that; we hear so many things so often," Baker's mother Rasheada Caldwell recalled earlier this year. "But then I heard a bang on the door, and I got up and thought that maybe my son had something in his hands and needed help with the door.
"When I opened it, there was my son bleeding profusely and for the life of me I could not imagine that my son would have been shot.”
The shooting came as a shock to those who knew Baker as a good kid who spent much of his time helping others. His mother believes it's possible someone mistook her son for someone else when they pulled the trigger.
More than seven months have passed since the shooting; police have not announced any suspect information or arrests, despite multiple community efforts to encourage someone with information to come forward.
2. What's happening with Ted Ackerman?
Ackerman, a now-former Syracuse firefighter, is facing a felony charge related to the deadly hit-and-run of 18-year-old Seth Collier in March.
Collier was struck by a car driven by Peter Rauch. a former investigator for the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office, on March 21. Collier passed away a few days later when he was taken off life support.
Ackerman was fired from the Syracuse Fire Department in April after being charged for tampering with evidence in connection, which he pleaded not guilty to. The felony complaint against Ackerman alleges he unplugged a video recording device at the Pastime Athletic Club, where the car that struck Collier was parked, after the accident. Ackerman is the President of the club.
While Rauch pleaded guilty to charges related to the accident and was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison, Ackerman's case remains unresolved. The last word we received from Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes, who is handling the case, came in August when he said the case was awaiting action from a grand jury.
3. What does the future hold for the old Quaker Steak and Lube?
For more than six years it served up a slice of Americana in the form of racing and chicken wings, but like the gas stations it was built to resemble, the Quaker Steak & Lube in Van Buren closed, leaving a community with an eyesore in the making.
We took a closer look at the property as part of "Tear It Down or Fix It Up," our special series of investigative reports on community eyesores. The neon-light lined, 8,929 square foot building sits dark and abandoned off Walters Road in Van Buren. Built in 2008, the restaurant closed in the fall of 2014. The property currently has an assessed value of $1,400,000, according to Onondaga County property tax data.
"It could sit there for years into the future," said Claude Sykes, R-Town of Van Buren Supervisor. "We are hoping that somebody will come along, take it over, take it out of the foreclosure process and make it viable again."
Court documents obtained by CNYCentral show that as of February 2017, foreclosure proceedings are still underway between QSL Syracuse LLC (the former property owner with a South Dakota address) and Stearns Bank of Minnesota.
4. Was Oswego County Legislator Shawn Doyle helping a child in need or endangering a vulnerable boy?
Shawn Doyle, a legislator in Oswego County, is one of two men facing charges in a child endangerment case.
Court documents obtained by CNYCentral show conflicting accounts of the relationship between Doyle and a teen boy at the center of the investigation.
In his account to investigators, Doyle claims he was trying to help the boy, however claims by the boy and his family contradict some of his statements.
Among other claims, the teen told investigators Doyle urged him to tell police that his parents had "a crazy sex party at the house" that never happened. In his statement to investigators, Doyle claims the boy had previously told him the alleged incident had occurred.
Doyle, 51, and school counselor Jim Maroney, 73, each face charges of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Issuing a False Written Statement.
While the ultimate outcome of the case against Doyle remains unclear, his immediate future as a county legislator seems secure; he was reelected in an uncontested race for his seat in November and the chairman of the Oswego County Republican Committee has pledged to support Doyle unless more details about the case emerge.
5. Who caused Jacob Giarrusso's death?
25 year-old Jacob Giarrusso's body was found on November 21 in a car parked at the Brookwood on the Green apartment complex in Liverpool. Giarusso's death, which was discovered after he was reported missing, is being treated as a homicide, according to the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office.
The Onondaga County Sheriff's Department is still working to identify who killed Giarrusso.
"We know what we're doing relative to the investigation and I'm confident with the pace of the investigation, and I'm extremely confident that we'll bring this to a resolution as well," Sheriff Eugene Conway said during a news conference in November.
That said, very little is known about that investigation and Giarrusso's loved ones are hoping to have answers soon.
"God won't let this just be the end of Jacob. One way or another it's going to come back, and we're going to know. He's going have justice," one of Jacob's close friends Natashia Carroll-Marsh said last month.
Update 12/20/2017: A New York State parolee has been charged for Giarusso's death, according to the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office.
Jacob Stanton, 24, of Geddes, was charged on December 19, 2017 with murder in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, tampering with physical evidence and petit larceny in connection to the death of 25-year-old Jacob Giarrusso, of Liverpool.
Stanton is accused of stabbing Giarrusso with a knife and then transporting his body to a remote area, according to the Sheriff's Office.