CLEVELAND - After 29 years, Yvonne Pointer finally saw an arrest in the case of her daughter's violent murder on Cleveland's east side. DNA evidence linked convicted rapist, 58-year-old Hernandez Warren, to the 1984 slaying of Gloria Pointer.
The arrest finally came for Pointer in May of this year but throughout that time, Pointer felt there was a certain person always on her side: Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Edward Tomba.
"Fortunately, because of technology we have today, we were able to develop a suspect. But you know, this tragic event that takes place in her life, so many times they just want to know that they're not forgotten and I felt that was my job, to keep her updated and to let her know what was going on. Sometimes, there wasn't anything going on, but at least she heard from us," Tomba said.
Tomba's actions weren't forgotten by Pointer, which is why Tomba received the "Unsung Hero" award Wednesday, presented by the FBI Citizens Academy Foundation at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Those overseeing the awards told NewsChannel5 the friends and family of Aliza Sherman and Yvonne Pointer nominated Tomba.
Sherman, a 53-year-old nurse and mother, was stabbed to death in March in downtown Cleveland. Tomba is still working with the family on the case.
Quoting Yvonne Pointer, Chairman of the FBI Citizens Academy Foundation, Steven Williger told the award ceremony's audience, "She said and I'll quote, ‘Deputy Chief Tomba stands out as not only a man behind the badge, but a man who has a heart behind the badge."
Upon receiving the award, Tomba stopped twice in his acceptance speech becoming emotional.
"Yvonne is a very special lady and I am a public servant. So the reason I'm here, and I believe I was put in this position for a reason, and that is to ease the pain and to help those that have been left behind by tragedy so thank you very much and I much appreciate this award," Tomba said.
Two others also received recognition Wednesday night.
Solon Police Department Patrolman Steven Davis was awarded the "Safety Forces Hero" award. Executive Director of Transitional Housing Inc. Sherri Brandon was awarded the "Citizen Hero" award.