Reward offered in robbery shooting death

Photo by James Mitchell
Debi Kamin (left) tearfully describes her daughter, Chelsea Ann Small, as “a phenomenal person” during a press conference Friday. Taylor Police Chief Mary Sclabassi (right) and Advance America announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Small’s killer.

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Hopeful that a $25,000 reward will help lead police to her daughter’s killer, Debi Kamin said she had envisioned a particular moment.

“When I got the call, the first picture I saw was sitting in a courtroom waiting to address him,” Kamin said.

At a Friday press conference, police said they are pursuing every avenue of investigation to identify the man who took the life of Chelsea Ann Small, 30, during a robbery attempt at Advance America, 8229 Telegraph, where she was a clerk.

According to police reports, a man entered the store shortly after noon. Police responded to the store’s alarm, and on arrival found signs of forced entry that included an open front door.

Police located Small, who had been shot several times. An undisclosed amount of cash was reported stolen.

Police believe that Small was alone in the store — which provides cash-advance services — at the time. Customers must be admitted into the store by a buzzer-lock system activated by employees.

Small’s mother said a mom’s gut-instinct tells her that her daughter knew the man, either through work or off-the-clock. Just a hunch, she said, separate from the avenues being explored by police investigators.

“She was in a safe environment,” Kamin said.

Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said that investigators are looking into whether Small knew the man, if he was a customer at that or other Advance America outlets — Small had worked at several locations — and any other connections that might exist.

Kamin described her daughter as a loving mother and devoted daughter with great ambitions. “She was a phenomenal young person.”

Small was the mother of two children, and reportedly was studying physical therapy while working at Advance America. Her children had been told, Kamin said, “Mommy had to go to heaven.”

Police have released photos and video images captured by the store’s surveillance system. The suspect is a white male, approximately 35 to 50 years old, medium to heavy build with dark, bushy hair and wearing a blue, waist-length jacket, white shirt, black pants and a baseball cap.

Representatives from Advance America attended a press conference Friday and announced the reward and establishment of the Chelsea Small Memorial Fund, donations to which may be made through 5/3 Bank.

Anyone with information is asked to call Taylor police at 734-287-6611 or CrimeStoppers at 800-SPEAK-UP.

(James Mitchell can be reached at