Michiana Unsolved: The homicide of Charles William Roberts III

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Fighting for his life as a baby, gunned down on his front steps as a teen, another unsolved murder in South Bend, but why? Christine Karsten looks at what happened to Charles William Roberts III and where this cold case stands 10 years later.

Charles had a rough start to life. He was born at just 29 weeks.

“Well, at 29 weeks your lungs haven’t developed yet, so he was put in an incubator,” explains his mom, Karen Grayson-Taylor.

Doctors thought he would pass through the night.

“My prayer was that he wouldn’t, and he didn’t,” adds Karen.

It was at that moment that Charles’s mom knew she would always be a bit overprotective of her little boy.

“I never saw him as 100 percent well. I saw him as the preemie that he was. So, I always took special care with him,” says Karen.

Karen and Charles were extremely close and in true little boy fashion…

“Yeah, he keeps saying he is going to marry his momma,” remembers Karen.

Charles grew up to love video games.

“He would have me at Game Stop ordering them, preordering them,” says Karen.

He also loved a good joke.

“My daughter would have company, they were 10 years apart, and he would run out in his undies, nothing but his undies,” laughs Karen.

As he got older, he continued to pave his own path. He loved music and started studying different religions and nothing got in the way of him and his mom’s cooking.

“We couldn’t keep him away from the BBQ ribs and the chicken and all the things that he liked for me to fix,” says Karen.

Which at times seemed to come in handy.

“It’s funny, my husband tells stories that he would look up sometimes and he and his friends would be like, ‘is that mom in the alley? Oh my god!’ and they would run off and I would be trying to find out where they went and I would lure him back to the house and be like, ‘I’m making cookies!’” says Karen.

All Karen wanted was to make sure her little boy was safe.

“We know there were multiple shots fired and we also are still looking at whether or not it was by the same person or if there were multiple people firing,” explains Lt. Kayla Miller with the South Bend Police Department.

It was around 8 p.m. on July 20, 2012, that shots rang out at 1101 Adams in South Bend. Charles was on the porch with one or two friends.

“They weren’t out there but maybe 10, 15 minutes and we hear, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow…” explains Karen.

According to police, a group of three or four young males approached the porch, exchanged some words with Charles and his friends and shots were fired.

“He opened the door and Charles fell in and he caught him, but he was wide awake, and he said, ‘Doodie what happened, who shot you?’ And Charles, he just looked up and he said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ And I think those were the last words we had heard from him,” says Karen

As Karen was trying to make sense of what had just happened, the suspects fled the scene, Charles was rushed to the hospital and into surgery.

“And I just started screaming, ‘No, no!’ So, my sister took my hand, and they took us in a room and the doctor said, ‘We lost him.’” Remembers Karen. “My son was supposed to be safe. He was at home; we were at home.”

At 18-years-old, Charles had just finished his junior year at Riley High School. He just started an internship at Notre Dame. He had dreams of being a barber and opening a shop right here in South Bend. Dreams ripped away by gun violence.

“What would you say to Charles?” asked Christine Karsten.

“Just to tell him how much I love him and miss him and how strong I am trying to be for him because I know how strong he was for me. And that I don’t blame him for anything,” says Karen.

This case was originally investigated by the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit but is now being investigated by the South Bend Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit. They are looking to talk to anyone with any information no matter how small it may be. They even want to talk to those who came forward 10 years ago.

So, if you have any information on what happened to Charles William Roberts III, you are asked to contact Michiana Crime Stoppers. You can call them at 574-288-STOP or 800-342-STOP. You will always remain 100-percent anonymous.

Also, if your tip leads to the solving of this case or arrest, you are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,500.

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