If her older son, who is in prison, were home, he might have even dealt with it already.

"All I'd have to do is turn my back or say the word," she says. "But I don't live that way. My son would. But I don't live that way."

Retaliation fuels much of the violence in the city. Holland is trying to be patient and let the police investigation takes its course, because, she says, she wants to see an arrest, not more violence.

But the case, with its constant reminders, wears on her. The fact that detectives gave her pictures and the names of some of the juveniles believed to be involved — she keeps them in a folder — sometimes makes her wonder.

"Maybe that's why they give you the pictures — [maybe] they want you to go do something," she says. "You never know. It makes me think."

Without a resolution to her son's case, Holland tries to stay focused and positive. In addition to her son's murder, in the past year, Isaac's father died from complications of alcoholism, and a longtime friend had a stroke last month, sending him to the hospital. As she fidgets about her home, Holland has the air of a woman trying to keep it together.

Part of that involves playing the lottery. When Isaac was young, Holland said, she sold crack cocaine to help raise him and his siblings. But her mother warned her that selling drugs would land her in jail, and then what would happen to the kids? Play the lottery, she suggested.

She remembers her first win: playing a jumbled version of a number she'd seen earlier in the day, she hit for $580. On her next try, she hit for $1,600. She took the kids to Mondawmin Mall to get new clothes. This was perhaps more than beginner's luck, she thought. She bought numerology books and now studies them to help her better predict the numbers. She plays twice a day.

Her best bet is the corner store at Greenmount and 25th Street, where she visits clutching more than a dozen numbers scratched out on a piece of paper.

Sometimes she sells the numbers, or gives people suggestions — spreading her luck to others. And now she's looking for someone to send a bit of good fortune her way and help find her son's killer.

Anyone with information on Jerry Isaac's murder, or any of the hundreds of open cases in the city, is asked to call detectives at 410-396-2100.


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