Crime

'She was left here to die alone,' Waveland mom says of daughter killed by hit-and-run driver

Shelby Luciano, 23, lost her life three years ago while walking on one of the city's main streets in the early-morning hours.

She was on Waveland Avenue after walking to and from friends' houses. Her body was found in a ditch on the east side of Spruce Street.

The driver who struck her and drove off has not been identified.

Police and her mother, Rose Foss Luciano, gathered at the ditch on Friday to remember her and to again ask the public for help to identify who killed her.

"She was walking. That's all she was doing," her mother said.

"She was left here to die alone."

Her mother and police hope that calling attention to her death will jog the memories of people who might remember something that could help identify who killed her.

"So much time has passed that someone may know something now that they didn't know then, or maybe the person who did it is feeling guilt and will come forward," Police Chief David Allen said.

Shelby Luciano's family is offering a $10,000 reward.

Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Allen has said police looked at Shelby Luciano's phone calls and text messages, and believe she was killed between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on June 18, 2015.

She was wearing a light blue top with spaghetti straps and dark-colored leggings. She was carrying a purse — a brown shoulder bag — and cellphone.

A motorist who noticed a white tennis shoe stopped and discovered a woman's body. The motorist called police about 6:30 a.m. She apparently had been dead about 5 1/2 hours.

Family and friends began distributing 900 flyers.

Her family, realizing police had no information to identify the driver, put up money for a reward the following month.

"I've never begged in my life but I'm begging now," her mother told the Sun Herald.

"I desperately need to know what happened," Rose Luciano said.

Rose Luciano described her daughter as free-spirited, spunky and petite but with a big heart.

Six weeks after she was killed, her mother put up some billboards in hopes of getting tips. One was a lighted billboard on U.S. 90 west of Waveland, less than a mile from where the body was found.

Shelby Luciano had attended a couple of semesters of college and was living with her boyfriend, her mother said. The daughter hadn't decided what she wanted to do with her life, but she had been a longtime volunteer at an animal shelter and had a heart for helping others.

"She was the kind of child that would watch an infomercial and want to send her allowance to help a starving child in a third-world country," Foss said. "She would get mad at me because I wouldn't stop to pick up hitchhikers.

"She wasn't materialistic and had a remarkable love for others and for me."

Shelby Luciano was her mother's only child, and was loved by others as well, said David Buckley, Waveland police investigator said at the time.

"The mother has questions and we want to give her answers," Buckley said. "It's frustrating."

If she was struck by a vehicle on Waveland Avenue, the vehicle would have been northbound and would have obvious damages to the front passenger side, Buckley said. The vehicle may have a damaged headlight, parking light, hood windshield or front fender.

To give a tip, call police at 228-467-3669 or call Crime Stoppers with an anonymous tip at 1-877-787-5898. Or give an anonymous tip online at mscoastcrimestoppers.com.

Luciano said it hurts to know her daughter will never find a career path, marry or have children.

"It may have been an accident," Luciano said, "but if it was an honest person, somebody with a conscience, they would have come forward by now."

Shelby Luciano's boyfriend was shot to death months later. Jason Duffy, 42, was shot several times in his home on Dicks Street on Nov. 29, 2015. Police have said his killing, also unsolved, was not related to her death.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
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