Tommy Corum was 10 days into his new taxi job when he went to pick up a passenger at a Hardee’s on Kings Drive in Charlotte 27 years ago.
It was 3 a.m., snow was on the ground, and he was on overtime.
Corum never returned.
The 30-year-old Crown Cab driver was shot in his taxi Jan. 14, 1988, on Waco Street, off Baxter Street and Queens Road.
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As decades passed, his sister, Gloria Corum, never thought her brother’s killer would be caught.
“It had been so long,” she said.
On Thursday, police announced they’ve charged a suspect in the case through a match of DNA they collected at the scene the morning of the killing.
Police on Wednesday night served warrants on Jackie Sanders, 49, charging him with first-degree murder and armed robbery. Sanders is in the Tabor Correctional Institution in Tabor City in the southeastern part of the state, where he is serving time as a habitual felon.
Police said that although they collected the DNA evidence, they couldn’t identify a suspect at the time.
In October 2013, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Cold Case Unit reviewed the case and submitted evidence to the department’s crime lab for DNA examination.
The Cold Case Unit has reviewed 143 cases since it began in 2003. Of those, 42 have been cleared, including 27 arrests, police said.
“Our detectives never give up on a case,” CMPD Capt. Cecil Brisbon said Thursday. “They work diligently, no matter how many years go by.”
He declined to further discuss the DNA evidence that led to the charges against Sanders.
Shot three times
After he was sent to the Hardee’s, Corum was later dispatched to a second call in the Cherry community but never arrived, the Observer reported at the time.
A Cherry resident said she was awakened by at least two gunshots and called 911.
“Before I hung up, there were more shots,” resident Lucille Lynch said at the time.
Corum’s white cab was parked behind a slate-blue frame house on Baxter Street. Police said the headlights were on, its engine running and tires spinning in the snow.
Police found Corum slumped in the back seat. He had been shot three times and was pronounced dead at Charlotte Memorial Hospital, now Carolinas Medical Center.
Before he joined Crown Cab, Corum worked on and off for 10 years as a Yellow Cab driver.
“He knew what to do,” a sister-in-law said at the time. “He would have used a code word (to ask for help) if he had time.”
He left behind a 6-year-old son.
Gloria Corum was working at a check-cashing business on North Tryon Street when she learned her brother had been shot.
She told her boss and then went straight to the hospital. But when she got there, she couldn’t stand to enter his room because he had been so badly injured, she said.
The first thought to cross her mind when police contacted her about the arrest: “Grateful to God,” she said.