The recent visits Monica Bullock had with her mother had been pleasant. Her smile was bright, she was a healthy weight, and she talked about her future, Bullock’s mother, Cheryl Auburger said.
Bullock had long struggled with depression, which worsened when her infant son died seven years earlier, her mother said. Bullock began abusing prescription painkillers and alcohol to cope with the grief, leading her mother to take custody of Bullock’s oldest son, she said.
Recently, Bullock, 31, had been living at an apartment in Baltimore’s northeast neighborhood of Frankford with her boyfriend, working as a cashier at a nearby dollar store. She was working toward stability in hopes of one day being able to raise 12-year-old Naszir herself, Auburger said.
Those hopes for a future reunification were abruptly dashed on Aug. 26 when Baltimore Police said Bullock was found fatally shot just before 10 p.m. in the 5300 block of Eastbury Avenue, near the apartment where she was living.
Three days after her daughter was killed, Auburger said city homicide detectives called her to say that her youngest — the baby of the family — had been killed.
Police publicly identified Bullock on Thursday.
Auburger said police have not provided her any other information, and expressed frustration about her unanswered calls to detectives assigned to the case. She fears that the department, burdened by more than 300 homicide cases a year, will not give her daughter’s case their full attention.
“The only thing we want is to know who killed Monica,” Auburger said. “She didn’t deserve that.”
Bullock is one of 249 people killed in the city so far this year, and one of 22 women.
In the same block where Bullock was killed, police said a 24-year-old man was critically injured in a shooting on Aug. 10.
Police have not identified any motive or suspects in Bullock’s case.
“The investigation is open and ongoing,” police spokeswoman Detective Niki Fennoy said Friday, declining further comment.
Auburger said she doesn’t know why anyone would want to hurt her daughter.
“She was a good person,” she said. “She was a little firecracker. She said what was on her mind.”
Auburger said her daughter was born in Baltimore, but the family relocated to Carroll County, where Bullock attended Gateway, an alternative high school.
While her mother’s family remained in Westminster, Bullock remained in Baltimore, where her father still lived. Bullock’s father, Allen Bullock, said Friday that he and his daughter had a falling out 14 years ago and he had not seen her much in the past few years.
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Auburger said her daughter had struggled in recent years, since the death of her youngest son, Davion, who accidentally suffocated when he fell between a wall and a bed.
“She always had depression, but when the baby died she dabbled in pain pills,” her mother said. Auburger took custody of her older grandson.
Recently, Bullock appeared to have stopped abusing drugs and was healthy, her mother said.
“I think she was in a good place,” she recalled.
Auburger said her daughter recently talked about applying to school programs. She said her daughter dreamed of becoming a marine biologist and moving to California to work with animals.
“She loved dolphins,” said Auburger, picked out an urn with dolphins on it.
“I know she is going to love it,” she said.