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Cold case: Teenager killed on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

It was 1971. A time of political turmoil, civil unrest and rapid change.

On the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, teenager James "Jay" Lorenzo Dial Jr., was walking home in a predominantly black community in Arlington when someone in a passing car shot him.

The 16-year-old boy ran to a neighbor's home in the Green Valley neighborhood, collapsed and died.

James Dial's killer sped off into the night and still has not been brought to justice.

Rumors that the Ku Klux Klan was to blame circulated in the small Green Valley community after the incident.

His family told reporters that James may have been killed by white supremacists as a warning against plans to establish King's birthday as a national holiday.

Police still have faith that they will someday arrest James' killer.

At about 10 p.m. on Jan. 15, 1971, James was walking home along South Kenmore Street after leaving his girlfriend's house when a car pulled over and the men inside began talking to him.

As he was walking away, one of the men shot him in the back. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

James, known to friends and family as Jay, was the only boy in a family of six kids.

At the time of his death, he was a student at Wakefield High School. He was both an athlete and musician. He played football and basketball; he wrestled and played drums.

Later that year, Arlington police arrested one suspect, but the man was let go for lack of evidence.

Anyone with any information regarding the death of James Dial is asked to call Arlington police at 703-228-4130.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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