Louis Chambers Jr. (Courtesy The Gazette)

Louis Chambers Jr. (Courtesy The Gazette)

Louis H. Chambers, Jr.

Homicide

Louis H. Chambers, Jr.
32 YOA
1400 block of Fifth Ave. SE
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
February 7, 1994

 

Linn County
Linn County in Iowa
Cedar Rapids in Linn County Cedar Rapids in Linn County

Louis H. Chambers Jr., a 32-year-old Waterloo man, was shot in the stomach in the 1400 block of 5th Ave SE in Cedar Rapids in the pre-dawn hours on Monday, Feb. 7, 1994.

He died that afternoon at a local hospital of the single shot to his belly.

According to a Cedar Rapids Gazette article published Feb. 8, 1994, a witness a half a block from the shooting heard Chambers’ early-morning plea as it echoed down a deserted Fifth Avenue SE.

“Oh no, no,” the witness said Chambers begged before one bang of gunfire rang out.

Gazette staff writer Rick Smith reported in the February 7 story:

A car that had been stopped in the 1400 block of Fifth Avenue SE instantly vanished. A man, left standing over the wounded Chambers, looked at the witness up the block and then fled on foot, the witness said.

The witness summoned police and moved in for a closer look.

Chambers was lying silent and on his side on the sidewalk almost in front of 1438 Fifth Ave. SE. Arriving rescue workers immediately administered oxygen and quickly bandaged the wounded man’s stomach before an ambulance took him to Mercy Medical Center, the witness said.

— Cedar Rapids Gazette, Feb. 8, 1994

According to Detective Capt. Terry Moyle, Chambers traveled to and from Cedar Rapids from time to time and apparently had stayed earlier Sunday night with a friend in a Cedar Rapids motel.

Victim stabbed just hours before fatal shooting

Chambers had been to Mercy Medical Center’s emergency room just hours earlier on Sunday, January 6, suffering from stab wounds. Though Chambers was treated and released, the wounds were serious enough to prompt hospital staff to call police, Moyle told the Gazette.

When later confronted and asked about the stab wounds, Chambers refused to discuss the matter with police.

About 4:45 a.m. the following morning, a witness said he noticed his car wasn’t the only one operating on Fifth Avenue SE at a usually quiet time of day. The Gazette said the witness — whose name was withheld to protect him against retaliation — at first thought nothing of the other car, stopped in the street, its headlights shining in his direction, until he heard a man’s shout and then the gunshot.

louis-chambers-body-found-crgCourtesy The Gazette, Feb. 8, 1994
Gazette map showing where witness saw person standing over Chambers after the shooting.

The witness said he was too far away to identify either the suspect or the car. After the vehicle had disappeared, he’d seen another man standing over [Chambers], who lay on the sidewalk in the snow. The witness described the man standing over the victim as about 5-foot-10 and weighing between 160 and 170 pounds.

“He was a dark, gray figure standing there,” the witness told the Gazette.

The intersection where Chambers was shot was one of three singled out in 1993 by the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association as among the best sites for placement of “Crime Watch” signs that boasted “We Call Police,” the Gazette reported.

A Dec. 1, 1993, shooting at Fifth Avenue and 15th Street SE landed two 18-year-olds in jail on terrorism charges, and an 18-year-old had also been arrested in August 1993 after firing shots into the side of an empty car.

Likely motive for Chambers’ murder

Ten days after Chambers’ shooting, Cedar Rapids police detectives arrested Stephanie Ceaser, 27, formerly of Waterloo, and charged her with the delivery of crack cocaine. In his criminal complaint against Ceaser, Linn County Attorney Denver Dillard spelled out her connection to Chambers and a motive as to why Chambers was killed.

A Gazette article published Feb. 17, 1994, said the inference from the complaint was that Ceaser knew who killed Chambers. Said the Gazette:

Chambers and a friend arranged to buy crack cocaine from Ceaser, obtained some from Ceaser, and Chambers then was shot a short time later when he and a friend had not paid for the drug, Dillard’s complaint states.

Chambers got one rock of cocaine, a $40 value, and was gunned down with the rock in a baggie in his mouth, Dillard’s complaint reveals. 

Dillard’s complaint also alleged that a friend of Chambers, Phillip Whiteside, called Ceaser at her 1527 Fourth Ave. SE residence in the early morning on Feb. 7 and arranged a crack cocaine deal. Ceaser then came to the southeast-side home of Louise Johnson and offered five rocks of crack cocaine for $200 to Whiteside and Chambers.

The customers obtained the crack, the Gazette said, with Chambers getting one rock, but the two did not pay for it. Chambers was shot a few blocks away a short time later.

United Youth Careers Representative

One striking irony in Chambers’ slaying was the very purpose of his visit to Cedar Rapids. Chambers had come to the city as a sales representative for United Youth Careers, a door-to-door solicitation operation based in Des Moines that purported to keep at-risk youth out of trouble.

Shortly after Chambers’ murder, United Youth Careers supervisor Kenneth McGregor Jr. came forward to praise Chambers’ work with youth and to say the murdered man’s life mattered.

“It would be very easy to say, Louis Chambers lived, Louis Chambers died,” McGregor said in the Feb. 17 Gazette story, “But it’s not that simple. We’re people of heart. He stood tall in United Youth Careers.”

McGregor told the Gazette he’d met Chambers a couple years ago in Des Moines and brought him into the business, knowing full well about Chambers’ past history.

“I’m not going to play like he was an angel. I’m not going to say that,” McGregor told Gazette reporter Rick Smith. “The man had a loud bark, but no bite.”

The Skylit Motel at 3931 16th Ave. SW — which had been robbed at gunpoint just hours before Chambers’ murder — was the same motel where United Youth Careers had paid for Chamber’s room. Police didn’t comment on whether or not the robbery had anything to do with Chambers or his death.

1995-3-13-CRG-louis-chambers-suspect-in-crCourtesy The Gazette, March 13, 1995
Despite no arrest, Cedar Rapids police are confident they know who killed Louis Chambers Jr.

The Gazette reported that Chambers’ criminal history in recent years had not been significant; he’s had two convictions for domestic assault and one for public intoxication in Black Hawk County in the past two years. Chambers had, however, been convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the June 1985 robbery of a jewelry store that he and a friend had robbed with a shotgun.

Nearly nine years later, Chambers’ life would come to an end by a shotgun blast.

Chambers’ death allegedly resulted from a drug trade dispute between individuals in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. The main suspect in Chambers’ slaying — Carlos Montford — was never arrested for Chambers’ murder but was arrested for his role in another homicide the following year.

In a Gazette sidebar published March 13, 1995, Cedar Rapids police said Chambers’ murder was not one of those that stumped police. According to the report:

Investigators are sure they know who shot Chambers dead on one of the city’s toughest streets. Police say Chambers was shot because he didn’t pay for a rock of crack cocaine.

Police say they know where he bought he crack, who bought some with him, who arranged the buy, and who shot him. There was one eyewitness, and associate of the murderer, and perhaps two. No one is willing to cooperate. The suspect lives in Cedar Rapids. 

No one has ever been charged in Louis Chambers’ murder.

louis-chambers-gravestoneCourtesy photo Mary E., findagrave.com
Louis Chambers is buried in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Waterloo, Iowa.
About Louis Chambers

Louis H. Chambers Jr. was born August 18, 1961.

He died of a gunshot wound in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, February 7, 1994.

Louis was buried in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Waterloo in Black Hawk County.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Louis Chambers’ unsolved murder please contact Cedar Rapids Police Department Investigator Matt Denlinger at (319) 286-5442 or email M.Denlinger@cedar-rapids.org.

Sources:

 

2 Responses to Louis Chambers

  1. Jodi Frye says:

    Thats sad for him and his family he took his killers name to the grave.

  2. This is very sad.i agree with you Jodi Frye.

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts