The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 22, 2013

Vigil held for slain 24-year-old

By James Neal and Cass Rains, Staff Writers
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Family and friends of Heath Crites gathered Tuesday night at Meadowlake Park for a candlelight vigil to honor and remember a young man whose life was cut short by violence.

Crites, 24, was found shot to death Dec. 22. Enid Police Department is continuing its investigation into the killing, but no arrests have been made.

The gathering of about 40 of Crites’ family members and friends came one month after his murder. They gathered to share memories, and keep their loved one’s unsolved murder in the public eye.

“We just want to make sure people don’t forget that it happened,” said Crites’ sister, Tasha Blom.

She said the love and support of Crites’ friends has kept the family going over the last month.

“He had a lot of great friends, and we wouldn’t be half of where we are today without them,” Blom said.

Allison Niles, a family friend who helped organize the candlelight vigil, said there’s likely someone in the community who knows information about Crites’ murder.

“We need someone to come forward and let their voice be heard,” Niles said. “This is a small town. Somebody has to know something. They might be too scared or too ashamed to say anything, but we want them to know this was a son, a brother, a father and a friend.”

Crites left behind two young daughters, Alexis and Gabby.

Family members remain optimistic police will find the person responsible for Crites’ death, and they want the public to remain aware of the unsolved crime.

“We don’t want people forget this happened until we find the person responsible for taking this young man’s life,” said Crites’ grandmother, Barbara Crites. “We want to keep people aware there’s still someone out there who needs to be brought to justice.”

She said she’s confident police are “doing all they can.”

“They may have more going than we know about that they can’t tell us yet,” Barbara said.

Capt. Tom Nichols, of EPD Investigative Services Division, said an arrest for Crites’ murder is expected.

“We’ve received some significant information on this case,” Nichols said. “We anticipate an arrest in the not-too-distant future.

“We feel pretty confident we’ll have something soon,” Nichols said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family through this difficult period,” said EPD Chief Brian O’Rourke. “They can rest assured the investigators are working hard to, and will, bring this case to a conclusion.”

While family members wait for Crites’ killer to be brought to justice they’re focusing not on revenge, but on the life of a man who always saw the good in those around him.

“We want to hang on to the good memories,” said Crites’ mother, Starla Smith.

EPD was called to the 300 block of East Columbia at about 2:18 a.m. Dec. 22 on a report of an unresponsive man. Crites was found shot multiple times and lying in the living room of the residence, located east of Enid Cemetery and south of the Garfield County Fairgrounds.

Anyone with information pertaining to the homicide is urged to contact police. Crime Stoppers’ number is (580) 233-6233. Tips can be sent from a cellphone by texting CRIMES (274637) and typing “Enid” in the subject field. Tips also can be submitted via the Internet by going to www.tipsoft.com.

Tipsters can earn a reward up to $1,000 and will not be required to testify or be identified. Callers also may contact EPD with information at 242-7000.