'He was gonna be somebody': Mother grieves son Kanye Stowers' murder as Richwoods graduation approaches
Kanye Stowers was a 17-year-old with big dreams.
A prolific musician and rapper, he filled his mom's basement with recording equipment he'd purchased with funds saved up from his after school job at Burger King.
A senior at Richwoods High School, Stowers was known as the "class clown," who loved to make everyone around him laugh. The baby of the family, Stowers was the youngest of three brothers — and just like them, he played football.
Stowers was ready to graduate from Richwoods this month, cap and gown already ordered and hanging in his bedroom. After that, he planned to study psychology at Illinois Central College.
Tomeka Love said her son would often tell her that once he was successful, he'd move her far away from Peoria.
"He was gonna be somebody," Love said. "His records, his music. He was going to go to college. He was ready. ... He could never do that now. I'll never see my grandkids. I'll never see him get married. I'll never seen any of the things that any mother would wish for the child. The person who killed Kanye took it away."
Late in the evening of Friday, April 8, Stowers was shot at a house party in Bloomington. He died from his injuries early Saturday.
Police are investigating the shooting, but no arrests have been made.
Love had previously lost her mother, father, and 4-year-old son, so grief is a familiar emotion. But the pain of losing a child to murder is unlike anything she could have ever imagined.
"I'm not going to stop until I get answers," Love said. "It's like opening up a book, and reading it, and closing it. You gotta open the book up again and keep reading, and keep reading, and keep reading. Until you get to what? The end."
Before her son's death, Love said she would watch as other children were shot and killed. She felt sorry for the other mothers, but deep down she thought, "That will never be my child."
Now, she is pleading with the public to come forward and share any information they may. Not just in Stowers' case — but any of the unsolved murders in central Illinois.
"Please talk. Talk. Because this could not just be my child, this could be the next door neighbor's child ... this could be somebody going to school ... anybody," she said. "So put yourself in my place. Put yourself in my shoes."
Following Stowers' death, students and faculty at Richwoods hosted a vigil in his honor. Love thanked the Richwoods community for supporting her family through this tragic time.
Love said the Richwoods graduation will be a difficult time for her and her family.
"My son ain't gonna be able to walk across that stage," she said. "That's a feeling ... Kanye was going to be somebody, man."
Love's older son — also a Richwoods grad — will don his younger brother's cap and gown and cross the stage in his Stowers' honor.
After graduation, Love said she plans to Bloomington — and demand answers.
"I just don't want my son to be another cold case. Another unsolved murder. Another homicide that's not dealt with," she said. "My son was a good child. He deserves justice."