Mother of hit-and-run victim fights for justice months after her son's death

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 19:02:19-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It was Juliana Baughman's first holiday without her son, Herman Ray Walters III, known to loved ones as "Rocky."

“I did not put up a Christmas tree. I did not put up my outside decorations. I just, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get there yet," Baughman told 7 Action News.

Rocky always called her when the ball dropped on New Year's Eve. But this year, Baughman couldn't bare to celebrate.

“I did not want to be awake at midnight,” she said.

Her 31-year-old son was killed in late July on Detroit's west side. Police said the driver, believed to Daniel Cook, struck Rocky, who was on his motorcycle, dragged him, and then took off.

It happened on the southbound Southfield service drive near Schoolcraft – an area Baughman knows well, as it's not far from the motorcycle club Rocky belonged to.

“He still needs to face what he’s done and who he’s done it to," Baughman said.

She's been a mother on a mission for more than five months, and determined to bring Cook to justice.

“I can’t get past this point of even trying to heal, and I won’t allow myself to, until he is apprehended," Baughman said. "I don’t want to feel like I’m failing my son. In my heart, I don’t think my son can be at rest until he is apprehended.”

She wears two reminders of her fight – a necklace with Rocky's ashes, and a number on the inside of her palm, showing the number of days Cook has been free since the fatal crash.

“I can’t believe I’m in three digits," she said, on day 158. "How he can still be out there is beyond me, unless somebody is helping him.”

Baughman and her family are working with the U.S. Marshal's to find Cook, who's been featured on Detroit's Most Wanted. Authorities believe he may be out of state.

The family has raised money, posted billboard, and Baughman takes to social media daily in hopes that someone may have seen something and will speak up.

“Everyday, I post it," she said. "And every day people share it. How can this man still be out there."