‘Something has to motivate them’: Reward rises to $9,500 for information on 2018 murder of sleeping Winter Haven man

Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County mother hopes an increased amount of reward money can bring her closure three years after her son’s death.

Darnya Barber, Darnell Powell’s mother

“As a mother, I feel like my obligation to get justice for my son would be fulfilled and then I feel like, maybe, I can actually lay my son to rest in peace and move on,” said Darnya Barber.

Darnell Powell, 21, was killed on Sept. 29, 2018 when a bullet flew through a bedroom window where he was sleeping at a friend’s house on Avenue V in Winter Haven.

No witnesses have come forward and no DNA or fingerprint evidence was at the scene.

On the second anniversary in 2020, family members joined with detectives to plead for answers and canvass the neighborhood for information.

“We’ve had information here and there. We’ve run everything down we can. We just have not had anything that’s given us that link or that evidence to find a suspect, which is what we need,” said Winter Haven Police Chief David Brannan.

This week, reward money for information leading to an arrest increased to $9,500 after a $4,500 additional reward was provided by the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Tips are kept anonymous.

“Something has to motivate them because they’re not just doing it out of their heart. They’re not doing it because they’re feeling any remorse so we have to just keep fighting,” said Barber.

Powell was an aspiring musician, known for his affectionate nature and high energy.

Pastor Clifton Dollison from the First Missionary Baptist Church knew Powell since he was born.

“For tragedies like that to happen, it just seems so unconscionable that you can’t imagine – how could someone do that?” he said. “It’s my hope and my prayer that somewhere along the lines, someone will step up, someone will say something that will lead to justice for this family.”

Barber misses hearing her son’s voice asking for a hug and treasures videos that show him laughing and singing.

“It wasn’t like he was just someone no one cared about. He was very special to us. He had a family that loved him,” she said.

Tips must be submitted through the Crime Stoppers program in order to receive the reward money.

Anyone with information regarding this case should contact Heartland Crime Stoppers:

  • Call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477)
  • From your cell phone, dial **TIPS
  • Or visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip,”
  • Or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.

The additional $4,500 is only available through June 30, 2022.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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