Loved ones mourn murdered Native American icon

Posted at 4:40 AM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 07:40:57-04

Loved ones of a Native American icon, who was murdered in a Phoenix home invasion, are determined to keep his memory alive, and bring his killer to justice.

Jess Sixkiller, 78, was shot and killed inside his home early Friday morning near 55th Avenue and Camelback Road.

Police are keeping very quiet about the investigation, but his loved ones have been canvassing the neighborhood, asking anyone they see for potential clues.

“We have lost our Martin Luther King, we have lost our Rosa Parks, we have lost our Malcolm X,” family friend Eddie Webb, of the Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, said. “This is not a crime statistic, this is an icon in American Indian history.”

Sixkiller was the first Native American on the Chicago Police Department who spent his life fighting for the rights of indigenous people in the U.S. 

“He is a tremendous asset, and there is no one that will be able to take his place,” Linda Willard, of the Valley of the Sun Cherokees, said.

Police said on Friday, Sixkiller’s wife was hiding in another room, but heard the intruder speaking to her husband in “broken English” about “police” before shots were fired.

Besides the woman's own information, there is no other description of the suspect who killed Sixkiller. 

“Someone out there knows who committed this crime, and we’re going to find them," Webb said. "But we’re going to need the community to help us."

Even with an arrest of the suspect, the pain of Sixkiller's family won't heal as they're forced to now live without him.

“There will be no closure,” Janell Sixkiller, the victim’s oldest daughter, said. “The justice will close one door, but the door that remains open, the one that everybody keeps asking us, ‘What can we do for you,’ can’t happen because I would say bring him back." 

If you’d like to help the family with funeral expenses, a “Jess Sixkiller Memorial Fund” has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank.

As for the investigation, detectives are asking anyone with information to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.