March 9 | By Doriel Gale & Project: Cold Case Staff
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class. The student credited above wrote this story as a class project.
Ralph Hemingway loved school and football. He was a bright, intelligent, outspoken, and friendly teenager.
Ralph was one of eight children, but the first of his siblings to graduate high school. Attending school was always a priority for him.
The 16-year-old had dreams of one day playing football professionally. “He was holding a football since he was one year old,” his mother Tesia Hunter said. Ralph played for a local league in the area. He was a versatile player, taking snaps at multiple different positions, including quarterback, offensive line, and defensive line.
On May 18, 2015, things changed. Ralph and his stepfather were enjoying the night talking outside of their house in Miami’s Overtown community. They noticed a car continued to pass by. After a few laps, gunshots rang out from the car.
Ralph ran when the shots started. He ran beside the house and hopped the fence. He didn’t realize that he had been shot in the chest. He was dead when paramedics arrived.
About an hour and a half prior to the drive-by shooting, there was another shooting in the same community. Five men we shot, 15-year-old Joewuan Coles was murdered. Police weren’t sure if the two incidents were related, according to reports from the time.
The murder occured just before Ralph’s graduation ceremony. As a strong student, he was graduating earlier than his projected gruduation date. His mother Tesia was invited to walk across the stage and accept the certificate on her son’s behalf. The school even left an empty chair at the ceromony in his honor.
Sadly, tragedy struck again in 2018, when Ralph’s brother Delquan Pigatt was shot in the same Overtown area. Pigatt and his girlfriend were both shot while talking a walk. She survived the injuries, but Delquan was rushed to the hospital where he passed away. He was 21.
Within three years, Tesia Hunter lost two sons. Neither case has been solved.
Hunter continues to remember her two sons with the hope that justice will one day be served. The family hosts parties each year to celebrate the life that Ralph and Delquan once lived.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Ralph Hemingway, please call the Miami-Dade Police Department at 305-476-5423. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade and The Florida Keys at (866) 471-Tips.
Research and Impact
CrimeStoppers is a national nonprofit organization with over a thousand subsidiaries to date. Locally in Jacksonville, Florida, Project: Cold Case has formed a great relationship with the First Coast CrimeStoppers program that began in 2002.
CrimeStoppers offers a safe opportunity for citizens to speak on crime and offer tips anonymously to help shutter the fear of retaliation and “snitching.” CrimeStoppers will also help promote unsolved cases by billboards, TV news spots, and more. These crimes consist of property thefts all the way to murder. If a tip is called In on the CrimeStoppers phone line and results in an arrest, the caller is given a cash reward. Here in Florida, all tips that result in an arrest in a murder case receive a $3,000 reward.
For many families, CrimeStoppers can be a valuable ally in their loved one’s cold case. CrimeStoppers works closely with their local investigating agencies, media, and community to ensure anonymous tips are a possibility in many areas.
When engaging with families, Project: Cold Case reminds survivors to look into their local area CrimeStoppers program to see if there is a reward offered for their loved one’s case.
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