'It still hurts': Family looking for answers nearly 20 years after murder of Philadelphia R&B star

John Whitehead's untimely death came more than 20 years after his song "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" topped the charts, but his murder remains unsolved nearly another 20 years later.

"I feel like I did 18 years ago. It still hurts," his daughter Lakia said. "And I feel like somebody should be held accountable."

Whitehead was an R&B star born and raised in Philadelphia. He and partner Gene McFadden wrote songs for the O'Jays and Harold Melvin on the Philadelphia International Records before dreaming up the monster hit, "Ain't No Stopping Us Now."

In 2004, witnesses say Whitehead was ambushed by three shooters while working on his car behind his West Oak Lane home. It's been nearly 20 years, and still no one has been charged with his death.

"It's not like I'm around feeling like, 'Oh we're going to find out who did this!' It's eighteen years later, but I still have hope.," Laika said. "I still have hope."


Philadelphia Police Captain Jason Smith says newer resources are allowing more cold cases, such as Whitehead's, to be reopened.

"I want to impress upon everyone that we have not forgotten about homicide victims," Smith said. "It is our job, our mission, to provide closure to these family members, next of kin of these homicide victims."

Whitehead's family and friends say they've heard he was not targeted; that his killing was a mistake; and that the shooters are no longer here.

"Every last one of them got killed too. They're all gone now," said Anthony Williams, who was like a brother to Whitehead. "Karma catches up with you.  Karma catches up with you one way or another. So my thing is if you live by the sword, you die by the sword."

Anyone with information on John Whitehead, or any other Philadelphia cold case, is asked to contact police.  I'm Hank -- and that's my take.