Christopher Palmer still keeps the Valentine’s Day card his classmate Jennifer Sue Delgado gave him when they were in third grade. It’s the only memento he has from her.
But 33 years after 8-year-old Jennifer’s murder at a Southwest Side laundromat, Palmer admits his memories have faded, along with hopes that the person who stabbed Jennifer and her mother will ever be caught.
“I just remember her being this sweet, kind girl,” Palmer told the San Antonio Report in June, near the anniversary of the killing. “Everybody liked her. She was a good student.”
Hoping to keep her memory alive in the community, Palmer is raising $5,000 to turn a portion of Westrock Drive into Jennifer Sue Delgado Memorial Way. The street passes by the former location of the now-closed Westrock Coin-Op Wash & Dry, where Delgado lost her life on June 7, 1988.
There, around 8 p.m., Jennifer and her mother Melida Delgado were sitting in chairs, drinking soft drinks near the entrance of the laundry business once located in the shopping center near Lackland Air Force Base, according to coverage in the San Antonio Express-News and the San Antonio Light.
An older teenaged boy wearing a white floral-patterned shirt came inside and put coins into a soda vending machine. When nothing came out, he became enraged and started hitting and kicking the machine.
He then pulled out a knife and stabbed Delgado and her mother, speeding away in the passenger seat of a gray or silver two-door sedan.
Jennifer and her mother were taken to Wilford Hall Medical Facility at Lackland Air Force Base, where Jennifer died later that night, news reports state. Melida Delgado left the hospital a few days after the attack.
Police immediately went to work trying to lift fingerprints from coins found in the vending machine, along with appealing to the public for tips. One SAPD detective told the Express-News the day following the attack that they had five detectives working on the case.
They searched in vain for the vehicle and driver, despite dozens of calls that came in with descriptions matching the sedan. Just two weeks later, the lead investigator said they were at a “standstill,” releasing a barebones sketch of the perpetrator.
One year after the murder, all trails had gone cold. Police arrived at a shortlist of 17 suspects, then narrowed them to three, then zero, with all able to prove their whereabouts the year before, according a 1989 Express-News article.
“At this point in the investigation, all possible leads have been exhausted,” Officer Alisia Pruneda, an SAPD spokeswoman, said in an email this week responding to questions about any recent activity in the case.
“We ask anyone with information on this case to call our detectives at 210-207-7635,” Pruneda said.
Palmer’s effort to name the street after Jennifer involves raising $1,000 for the application fee to the City, with the remaining $4,000 going to designing and installing the signs. He’s gathered $950 so far on GoFundMe.
It isn’t the first time he’s tried to revive interest in the case. On the 20th anniversary of Jennifer’s death, Delgado organized a candelight memorial with a local priest. A former KABB and KAST news crew member, he invited TV reporters to cover the event.
Palmer said he’s spoken with Jennifer’s sister, who said family members “appreciate my efforts and trying to do what I can for myself and my classmates.”
“They have faith in God and that he is going to bring justice for them,” Palmer said. “So for them, they have closure and they really don’t want to talk to the media.”
As for Palmer, he just wants to make sure Jennifer is never forgotten.
“My daughter’s just a couple of years older than what Jennifer was when she died, and just to have your life cut short like that … for something so stupid and just senseless, it hurts even more,” he said.