Reward for Chelsea Small’s killer upped on anniversary

Photo by James Mitchell Debi Kamin (center) addresses the crowd at a candlelight vigil held Wednesday night to mark the one-year anniversary of the murder of her daughter Chelsea Small.

Photo by James Mitchell
Debi Kamin (center) addresses the crowd at a candlelight vigil held Wednesday night to mark the one-year anniversary of the murder of her daughter Chelsea Small.

Family hosts candlelight vigil on one-year anniversary of murder

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — The mother of a woman who was killed one year ago remains hopeful that the man police have been looking for will be caught, perhaps sparked by a newly-increased reward offer for information.

“All it takes is one thing,” Debi Kamin said. “Just one puzzle piece is missing.”

Kamin joined dozens of family and friends Wednesday at the Telegraph Road storefront where her daughter, Chelsea Small, was killed in November 2013. Small’s employer, Advance America, increased by $5,000 its offer for tips leading to an arrest and conviction – a reward now at $52,500 from the loan company and Crime Stoppers of Michigan.

“I miss her terribly,” Kamin said. “My bigger concern is for other people working alone in a building like that.”

Advance America, Kamin said, has been more than supportive in the year since an unidentified man walked into the company’s now-closed branch at 8229 Telegraph Road.

Surveillance video shows a white man, 35 to 50 years old, medium to heavy build with dark, bushy hair, wearing a blue waist-length jacket and a baseball cap who forced entry into the store – typically customers are buzzed in – and shot Small several times.

Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said the case remains active and prominent in the mind of the department’s detectives.

“We’re hoping that the one-year anniversary will renew interest,” Sclabassi said, “and spur tips or new information for a possible suspect.”

Taylor police, Kamin said, have been as supportive as her daughter’s employer, and she’s been overwhelmed by the support of strangers who reached out to her.

“We’ve received more than 900 cards from across the state,” Kamin said. “Our family is hugely appreciative. Advance America sent very compassionate people and they really put the kids first.”

Small’s two young children are cared for by their father, who remains close with Kamin as the family bonded through tragedy.

“He stepped into my quiet little world and tore it apart,” Kamin said of her daughter’s killer. “As a mom it tears me apart that I couldn’t stop that.”

Kamin remained hopeful that she can someday offer closure when the killer is brought to justice. Kamin maintained a belief that the killer was known to her daughter – who had worked at several Advance America branches.

Also, she’s been told that her daughter appeared to be comfortable in the man’s presence as seen on the security video, which she hasn’t yet allowed herself to view in its entirety.

Sclabassi said investigators aren’t ruling out any suspects, although they believe this to be a random robbery by someone unknown to Small.

Small thanked everyone for continuing to put the word out, and asked that as many people as possible share news of the increased reward on social media.

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

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)