In my previous blog, I covered the story of the serial killer, the so-called Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run. He terrorized Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1930s. This week’s case is also from Cleveland. It’s the sad story of Gloria Pointer.
Gloria Pointer Vanishes
Thursday, December 6, 1984, was cold and snowy in Cleveland, Ohio. Fourteen-year-old Gloria Pointer had a particular reason to attend school that day: she was to receive a perfect attendance award. She left her home on East 114th Street, intending to meet a friend on East 105th Street. The two planned to walk to school together.
The trek from Gloria’s house to Harry E. Davis Junior High School usually took about fifteen minutes. By 7:30 a.m., Gloria hadn’t arrived at the friend’s house, Her classmate left for school without her. When Gloria failed to show up for classes, the school’s principal called her mother, Yvonne Pointer.
Witnesses reported seeing Gloria with a man near 10515 Orville Avenue. Descriptions were vague because he had bundled himself up against the cold.
At 10:30 a.m., an apartment building custodian found Gloria’s battered body at the bottom of a fire escape stairwell of a building behind the school. She had been sexually assaulted and beaten to death.
The Long Hunt for Gloria’s Killer
Police investigated men and youths that knew Gloria. Her stepfather was one of the first. He and Gloria had a strained relationship, and detectives thought his reaction to the murder lacked emotion. However, he and Gloria’s mother, Yvonne, had been delivering newspapers at the time of the attack.
Deshawn Haley, Gloria’s boyfriend, came under scrutiny next. But several witnesses put Haley at the school when Gloria was killed, which ruled him out.
There appeared to be a break in the case later on December 6. A man attacked another girl not far from Davis Junior High. The girl escaped, and police arrested a suspect, Romell Broom. Broom had a history of sexual assaults, and investigators thought he might have attacked Gloria. Detectives were unable to find evidence linking him to Gloria Pointer. However, they did connect him to the September 1984 murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton.
For nearly thirty years, Gloria’s case went unsolved. Her mother, Yvonne, conducted her own investigation into her daughter’s death and prodded Cleveland Police to continue their investigation. Besides that, she became an advocate and worked to reduce crime in her neighborhood.
Justice for Gloria Pointer at Last
By the late 2000s, DNA technology had advanced enough that technicians developed a profile from Gloria’s rape kit. In 2013, detectives urged the Cuyahoga County coroner to submit it to CODIS, the national DNA database. It matched the profile of 58-year-old Hernandez Warren.
Warren was a convicted felon who had served prison time for rape. Police were confident they had their man. Before bringing the case to court, they needed additional evidence to make it “stick.” Cleveland detectives worked with the FBI to devise an interrogation strategy.
Detectives brought Warren into the station for an informal interview about old cases. The questioning began focusing on Gloria Pointer. He agreed to submit to a polygraph examination, which he failed. After an overnight stay in jail, Warren confessed the next day to raping and murdering Gloria Pointer in 1984.
In May 2014, Hernandez Warren pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and rape. Yvonne Pointer did not want the death penalty, so the judge sentenced him to life in prison. He can apply for parole after 30 years.
As of 2023, Hernandez Warren remains incarcerated at the Toledo Correctional Institution in Toledo, Ohio. He will be eligible for parole in 2043 when he is 88.
Detective Janice Abernathy, the original lead detective, continued working on Gloria’s case long after she retired.
Romell Broom, at one time suspected in the Pointer case, was sentenced to death for the murder of Tryna Middleton. His execution date was September 9, 2009. For two hours, executioners tried and failed to maintain an IV line through which they could introduce the lethal drugs. Broom’s lawyers tried without success to have his death sentence modified. However, he died of suspected COVID-19 complications on December 28, 2020 before the state could execute him.
Harry E. Davis Junior High School closed in 2006. An affordable housing complex is planned for the site.
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