Search still on for Chelsea Small's killer

Posted at 11:15 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 08:21:41-04

The crime was cold, calculated and totally senseless.

Nearly two and a half years ago, a killer brazenly walked into a cash advance store in Taylor and took the life of a single mom who was just doing her job. 

Now, detectives and Chelsea Small’s family are hoping that someone will finally come forward to crack this cold case.

“She was a phenomenal mom,” said Debi Kamin, Chelsea Small’s mother. “She had a heart of gold.”

Kamin says Chelsea lived for her children.

“Life wasn’t always easy for her, but it was about putting a smile on somebody’s face,” said Kamin.

Chelsea was a 30-year-old single mom from Gibraltar. She was earning her degree at Wayne County Community College, staying on the Dean’s List, and working full time at the Advance America store in Taylor.

On November 12, 2013 a man calmly entered that store, shot Chelsea, and left with stolen cash. Her grieving grandmother says Chelsea’s son and daughter will never be the same.

“He walked in and messed up a lot of people. Over money,” said Kamin.

“The manner in which this crime was committed was, to me, after 20 plus years of experience-- it’s unbelievable,” Taylor Police Detective Steven Schwein told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

During the last two years, Detective Schwein has chased down every possible tip and lead he’s received.  But despite surveillance video that police say clearly depicts the killer, the man who murdered Chelsea still has not been caught.

“The thought of that kind of a calculated and cold person living in our back yards – it’s unnerving.  It’s very unnerving,” said Det. Schwein.

Det. Schwein says the entire crime happened in only one minute. 

“He walks up and engages Chelsea in a very brief conversation,” said Det. Schwein.

But within seconds, the suspect is behind the counter, where Schwein says he shot her twice, killing her. 

“The violence - It wasn’t even thought of twice. It was so quick,” said Det. Schwein.

Police say Chelsea offered no resistance, other than triggering the alarm; it’s not clear if the killer realized that or not.

Police say it appears the suspect went to the left after he walked out of the store and headed south. But he doesn’t seem to show up on any of surveillance cameras in the area. 

It’s hard to believe that no one saw him leave because the crime happened at noon in broad daylight. There are businesses on either side of this store, and the Advance America was located on busy Telegraph Road.

Det. Schwein wants everyone to take another look at the suspect. They believe he could be between 35 and 50 years old.  In the video, he’s wearing a dark ball cap with an emblem on the front. His pants might be from a uniform company, and he has distinctive hair.

“I think it’s the clothing that’s going to be the key,” said Det. Schwein.  “And the manner in which he walks, his gait, his posture.”

There’s another thing that could trigger someone’s recognition: police say this killer was extremely proficient with that gun.

“There could be prior military experience here. There could be security experience, or he could just be a really significant advocate of firearms,” said Schwein.

“We’ve got to make this right for the kids,” said Kamin.

Chelsea’s mother and sisters believe this killer must have slipped up during the last 2 years, saying something to someone who just hasn’t spoken up yet.

“Where’s your loyalty? 'Cause if you’re any kind of person that was raised with a conscience, you would obviously understand that children need their parents--and you’re protecting somebody that took this all away,” said Kamin.

If you know anything that could help solve this cold case, Taylor Police want to hear from you.  Between Crimestoppers and Advance America, there is a $52,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest. 

Call 1-800-SPEAK-UP or Taylor Police at 734-287-6611.