The family of a 26-year-old Black, pregnant mother of four found dead near a Kansas City, Missouri, park wants to know why the police investigation into her mysterious death has stalled.

Elaysha Gilliam was found in a field near Dunbar Park shortly before midnight on Feb. 19, according to the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

Details regarding her homicide are murky, and so far no arrests have been made.

The department hasn’t released many updates about the 5-week-old case, not even to Elaysha’s family.

“I want closure, we need answers,” said Clydetta Gilliam, 46, Elaysha’s stepmother who raised her since infancy. “The police are dragging their feet, but I need to go out here and solve the case myself. They aren’t giving us anything.”

Elaysha’s death comes as the city has struggled with homicides in recent years.

The city experienced its deadliest year on record last year, with 182 murders, according to police. The previous record of 176 homicides was set in 2020, police said. NBC affiliate KSHB reported last year that Missouri has the highest homicide rate in the country for Black women in recent years.

Elaysha Gilliam.Courtesy family

Officers were called to the scene on the night of Elaysha’s death and found her in a field near Dunbar Park. She appeared to be suffering from “bodily trauma,” and emergency crews pronounced her dead, police said.

She died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to a death certificate.

The lack of information from police has only frustrated Clydetta, who said many of her questions regarding the death are unanswered.

“Are there any fingerprints from shell cases? What was found around her? Did she have clothes on when she was found?” Elaysha’s stepmother asked.

Detectives said they are making progress toward identifying a person of interest but have also asked for the public’s help with gathering information, and are offering a reward of up to $25,000.

“That case remains under investigation as a homicide,” the department told NBC News in an email.

As the days move forward, family members say they’re trying their best to stay together.

Brandon Gilliam, 18, last saw his older sister two weeks before she was killed, when he changed her flat tire and filled up her gas tank.

He, too, questions what caused his sister’s death.

“We’re still at a loss for words. We don’t know what to think,” Brandon said. “Death happens, but the wrong person was taken from us.”

Life hadn’t been easy for Elaysha, a pregnant mother of four whose children range in age from 2 to 9.

One of her children has sickle cell anemia and another eats through a feeding tube, family said.

“She had a lot of stress trying to take care of a lot of people,” Clydetta said.

But at 12 weeks pregnant, family members said, Elaysha couldn’t wait to bring her fifth child into the world.

“She had been shopping for baby clothes,” her father, Ed Gilliam, said.

He said Elaysha’s biological mother moved into her apartment the week she was killed, and that one of her sisters periodically stayed there as well.

He said Elaysha’s mother told him that Elaysha left home on the night of her death possibly to see her boyfriend. She left her kids at home with her mother, who was supposed to watch the children until Elaysha returned. But she never did. Elaysha’s mother couldn’t be reached for comment.

Relatives said Elaysha was in the midst of starting over. She had accepted a job at a car wash, which would serve as a temporary place of employment until she could open a hair salon.

Elaysha was also getting a new car and an apartment in a better part of town. She planned to put her kids in a different school, the family said.

Meanwhile, family members are looking back on Elaysha with fond memories.

Ed said his daughter brought joy and looked out for everyone, even at her own expense. She could be dramatic, but in a humorous way, family said. Her smile was part of her charm. And she had a knack for fashion.

“She could take a $4 outfit and make it seem like it costs $2,000,” Clydetta said. “You could see her smile all the way down the street.”

Those are just some of the traits her family will miss.

“I want my baby to get justice,” her father said. Other family members said they have to keep fighting.

“I’m not gonna let them sweep this under the rug. I want every single person charged,” Clydetta said, adding that she’s considered spending $2,000 on a billboard advertisement to drum up tips and interest in the case.


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