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Steven Wesley Graves, Jr., a former star fullback and Co-Captain of Hoover High School’s 1992 football team, was shot in front of 1600 16th St. on Des Moines’ north side early Tuesday morning, November 8, 1994.
The 19-year-old Graves was transported by ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center and pronounced dead at 11 a.m.
Cause of death was ruled a gunshot wound to the abdomen from a large-caliber weapon.
According to a Des Moines Register article by Tom Alex dated November 9, 1994, Timothy Robinson and Aretha Gowdy were driving down 16th Street around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday when they saw a man lying in the street. The couple asked if he was all right, to which the victim responded, “No, I can’t get up. I’ve been shot.”
Robinson placed a call to Des Moines police, and the victim managed to tell officers his first name and age before being transported to the hospital.
Police identified the victim as Graves using fingerprints and a tip from an unnamed individual.
Police Captain Jack Morton and Lt. Drew Burham, who’d cruised through the 16th St. and Mondamin Ave. area Monday night, said there had been a fight there about 8 p.m.
“You could drive through there…and feel that something was wrong,” said Morton.
While patrolling the area later that night, they’d sensed something might be going on when they found eight to 10 men standing on the corner wearing their black-and-white gang colors.
“We rolled down the window and asked them, ‘Don’t you guys have somewhere to go?'” Morton told the Register. He said the men were all very polite and surprisingly cooperative.
“It wasn’t right. It was like they were going to do whatever it took to get us to leave,” he said. “So we thought there must be something in the wind.”
Neighbors said they’d heard gunshots but had no knowledge of what happened.
One individual reported seeing two occupants inside a small dark car leaving the crime scene area on or around the time of Graves’ shooting. A pager discovered nearby was taken into evidence.
The former standout football player’s murder saddened and shocked Hoover High School teachers and classmates.
“[Graves] was the anchor of the Hoover running attack,” Grave’s former football coach, Steve Lundholm, told the Register.
Lundholm said Graves both motivated and inspired his teammates, often entertaining them in the locker room with his beautiful singing voice.
“I always thought that is what he would do. I thought he’d get into singing,” Lundholm said.
Steven Wesley Graves, Jr., was born November 29, 1974, and died 21 days before his 20th birthday.
He was buried at the Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.
His gravestone reflects his two greatest passions: football and music.
Despite a $1,000 reward offered by Polk County Crime Stoppers, no one has been charged in Graves’ murder.
If you have any information about Steven Graves’ unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864.