Phone call released in cabbie death case

October 15, 2010 4:04:56 PM PDT
There's new information, connected to the murders of two Houston cab drivers. For the first time, we're hearing the phone call that ultimately ended in one driver's murder yesterday morning. Investigators at Houston police headquarters remain hopeful. The caller could perhaps lead them to the killers. The call was made about 2:53am Thursday by a woman who said her name was Shantay.

At 4:15 Thursday morning, Houston police discovered the body of cab driver Blaize Nwokenaka in his burned out cab. He had been shot and robbed.

"Hello, could I have a cab to 1905 Dairy Ashford?" said Shantay, the voice of the unidentified woman who police say called the Yellow Cab Co. and requested the taxi. The call was made about an hour and a half earlier at 2:53 am.

[LISTEN TO AUDIO OF THE CALL]

Homicide investigators say finding Shantay is crucial to their investigation. Both cab drivers, Nwokenaka and Mohammed Elsayed - who was murdered on Tuesday - had been called to the same gas station on different days and were later found dead.

Police are connecting the crimes. Robbery appears to be the motive in both killings. Cab drivers who knew the victims realize their job is dangerous and admit to feeling helpless.

"Yeah, I'm worried. I'm ready to leave this job, because it's dangerous," said cab driver Sher Khan.

He knew the two drivers who were killed. Khan says those behind the wheel are in a very vulnerable position.

"I can't do nothing. It's what I do. I can't do nothing because I'm driving. I don't know if this guy is good or this guy is bad," Khan said.

Even with cameras inside their cabs, Yellow Cab drivers understand the dangers and the risks. Other cab companies in our area are relying more and more on other types of technology to help keep their drivers safe.

Cab drivers on edge, reward offered for arrest

Houston police say they have received no tip calls since putting out a request for help from the public. Investigators were up all night working leads, but so far there have been no arrests.

Before 4am Friday morning, police located a cab in a northwest Harris County neighborhood. Police say the Yellow Cab Company called them trying to locate the driver who was not responding to them. Investigators later determined the driver parked the car unbeknownst to his dispatcher, went home and went to sleep.

The fact that the company was so quick to call police, though, is evidence of how on edge cab drivers and those they work for now are.

Police believe there were at least two people involved in the crimes. They believe one cab stopped at a second gas station before the cabbie was murdered.

"I also believe that there were other folks at the location when the yellow cab was there. I would like to talk to some of those people to see if they have any information about the people who were in the cab at the time," said Roger Chappell with HPD Homicide.

Crime Stoppers and Yellow Cab Co. are offering a reward of $15,000. If you have any information, you can call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

The Yellow Cab Company issued a statement Friday which read in part:
    "As we stated yesterday, we mourn for and alongside the families of the two slain drivers. As long as the investigation is ongoing, we will continue to limit the publication of information so as to not interfere with the investigation and apprehension of the perpetrators. However, we do definitively state that no other cab company in Houston does more to protect its independent contractor drivers - an example of this is our being the only fleet with cameras onboard. We have certainly taken additional safety precautions in reaction to the recent slayings, but will not disclose such precautions until the assailants are apprehended."


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