By Rose Quinn
Published in the Delaware County Daily Times
Kyle Haley loved being the man of the house. It started when he was just a kid and progressed in earnest as his three younger siblings got older.
“It became like a code of honor for him … a loyalty to family, especially when he had his own children,” his mother, Tammy Ringgold-Coston, said.
It was a special quality in Kyle that Tammy believes would have only deepened if her son – who would have celebrated his 40th birthday April 1 – had lived.
Come July 5, 10 years will have passed since 30-year-old Kyle Haley died. He succumbed to a bullet in his head fired at close range as he was walking in the 3900 block of Post Road in Trainer, shortly before midnight July 4, 2012. Kyle was heading toward his uncle’s Fourth Street house in the borough, where he was living.
“I just miss him tremendously,” his mother said. “Kyle was an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind human being who had a very infectious smile.”
About Kyle Haley
- Kyle Haley, 30, was alone and walking east in the 3900 block of Post Road, Trainer, when his assailant(s) shot him in the head, shortly before midnight July 4, 2012. He died July 5 at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
- The homicide investigation is ongoing by Detective David Tyler of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from Detective Richard Jones of the Trainer Police Department.
- Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Tyler at 610-891-4197; the Trainer police hotline at 610-494-7399; or 911.
Kind, respectful, compassionate, and generous – all words his family and friends said best described Kyle Haley.
“Kyle was my hero growing up. Everything he did, I wanted to do,” said his sister, 38-year-old Brittany Haley. With only 18 months between them, she said their bond at times was like being twins.
“There wasn’t a lazy bone in his body,” Brittany said. “He would work to get what he wanted … He liked to have nice things, and he wanted those he loved to have nice things, too.”
Like Brittany, sister Adriana, 27, and brother Collin, 36, said they always knew Kyle wanted only the absolute best for them. From making better life choices than he did, down to their shoes.
All three of his siblings, and a cousin, have a separate, vivid image of Kyle – whose nickname was Kash – buying them the most stylish, expensive pair of shoes at a pivotal time in their lives, an extravagance he seemed to enjoy giving as much as they enjoyed receiving.
For Adriana, it was a pair of sneakers for her first day of elementary school, while Collin recalled being gifted with a pair of Timberland boots for his freshman year of high school.
“I remember it being such an awesome thing, because they cost a lot of money,” Collin said. “We didn’t have a lot, and he wanted to ease the pressure on our mom.”
For Brittany, it was a pair of pink and white Michael Jordan’s for her 16th birthday. She remembers them meeting at the old Granite Run Mall in Middletown.
“You deserve it. It’s OK to have stuff,” she can still hear Kyle telling her.
Later that year, recalled Brittany, “I even wore the shoes he gave me for luck when I took my SAT … and I did very well.”
Cousin Amare Okafor, 26, also remembers Kyle buying him a pair of black Timberlands.
“He was like a big brother to me, and then a father figure,” he said. “I feel he taught me to care for others.”
If Kyle’s murder was the result of a botched robbery, Brittany said it only adds to the senselessness.
“Kyle was generous, almost to a fault. He would have given you anything he had,” said Brittany, describing her big brother as the guy who while working at Wendy’s would use his own money to help a customer cover their bill.
“But they didn’t even take anything,” she said of the elusive killer(s). According to authorities, Kyle Haley had $470 in a rear pocket of his pants. His cell phone, a debit card, and a carton of cigarettes minus a pack he had given away, were also found at the scene.
“We think whoever shot him got scared and ran off,” Detective Tyler said.
A single bullet, according to family and friends, took more than their beloved Kyle away from them forever. It took away his second chance at life, to right old ways, and for his son, Ari, now 13, and his daughter, Tykeira, now 22, to know the man he wanted and knew he could be for them, beyond prison.
Released April 16, 2012, according to records cited by authorities, Kyle Haley was home less than three months when he was gunned down.
At the time, he was on parole after serving time in a state prison on 2002 robbery and conspiracy offenses in Chester County, one case among his legal problems over the years, according to authorities.
“If anyone deserved a second chance, it was him. And he got it, just not for long. It was taken away so quickly, and for no reason that we know of,” said 73-year-old Freda Reed, Kyle’s maternal grandmother. “He wasn’t perfect. But I was proud of him, always.
“He was my first grandchild. He was my heart, my sweetie,” she continued.
Kyle Ashley Haley was born at Lancaster Osteopathic Hospital on April 1, 1982.
“I was a single mom. I was young when I had him,” said Tammy Ringgold-Coston, who was residing with her mother and stepfather in Oxford, Chester County, at the time.
Tammy described Kyle as a beautiful, good baby who grew into a typical ornery toddler who loved toy soldiers, cars, and trucks.
“He was a likeable kid, and he was always family oriented,” his mother said.
“He grew up to be like a son to me,” said Ericka Reed Okafor, Tammy Ringgold-Coston’s sister. “Kyle had so much potential.”
Describing Kyle as his “shadow” growing up, Russ Reed, Tammy’s brother, said his nephew grew into an impressively “intuitive” young man, whom he loved and misses.
Throughout his early years, Kyle also lived in Newark, Delaware. He attended Jordan Bank and Hopewell elementary schools in Oxford, and Richard E. Byrd Middle School in Delaware.
A stellar athlete in both football and basketball, “Everyone always wanted him on their team,” recalled Brittany, who as a cheerleader had many friends in common with Kyle.
“He was very popular,” said Brittany.
He also liked things neat, especially his bedroom, which she said he kept “immaculate.”
And Kyle was a big jokester – as if every day was his April Fools’ Day birthday.
“You always knew the joke was going to be on you. He roasted me all the time,” Brittany said, laughing. “He was so smart, and so charismatic, the only comeback I ever had was teasing him about his big ears.”
During a time when his family lived in Marcus Hook, Kyle attended Chichester High School.
“School bored Kyle,” his mother said. Like any parent, she was disappointed when he dropped out in the ninth or 10th grade. She was not at all surprised when he got a job at a local Wendy’s.
Thanksgiving was Kyle’s favorite holiday. Fried chicken and potato salad was his favorite any day meal, though anywhere with a buffet was his favorite place to eat out. Nautica was his favorite clothing line, and the Green Bay Packers were his favorite football team, much to his grandmother’s chagrin.
Freda Reed, an Eagles fan, misses the spirited banter with her grandson over sports.
Kyle Haley did not drive.
“He never got his license,” mostly because of the time he spent incarcerated over the years, his mother said.
“No one wants to be incarcerated, or see their loved ones incarcerated,” his Aunt Ericka Okafor said. “He wasn’t a saint, but he read the Bible. He gave his life to Christ when he was incarcerated. He paid his dues. He had time to think about his mistakes and he wanted to make right by his children.”
While he was in prison, his family said, Kyle also got his high school equivalency diploma, and read self-help books. Family members would send him money and photographs, and between visits they wrote letters.
“He was being a survivor,” said Brittany. “I feel this is how he looked at life: Against all odds, I’m going to make something of myself.”
Kyle’s grandmother keeps her letters in a Bible.
“He would always tell me he loved me,” she said.
In one of his letters to Adriana, Kyle wrote, “Always plan for the future … Don’t be like me having to come from behind all your life. I ain’t trying to be demanding. I just want to see you do good.”
Kyle’s family all said they missed precious time with him because of his incarcerations over the years.
“I was looking forward to making up for lost time,” said Adriana.
“I always wonder what our conversations would be now that I am older,” Amare Okafor said.
“Kyle never did anything that was selfish, that was just for Kyle. Everything Kyle did, there was always a good reason why he did it,” Collin said. “He used to tell me, ‘Certain stuff ain’t you … stick to playing sports.’ ”
Both Collin and Amare credit their love of hip-hop music to Kyle, a fan of artists like The Notorious B.I.G. and Wu-Tang Clan.
‘He’s been shot’
When Kyle was released from jail in 2012, his mother wanted him to come live with her and her husband, Al, in Georgia. But he was on parole and conditions did not allow him to live outside Pennsylvania.
Joseph Rochester said his nephew was not out of jail very long when he came to live with him and his family on Fourth Street in Trainer. It is where Kyle was headed when he was mortally wounded – less than a five-minute walk away from home.
“When he broke up with his girlfriend, he had nowhere to go … He lived with us for about three months,” Joseph said, referring to his then fiancé and now wife, Thais Boswell Rochester, and their 8-year-old twin boys.
“His life changed when he came home (from prison) … He was a great person, but he was on a path to be his best person,” said Joseph, who met Kyle by chance later in life. “He was the funniest, most kind-hearted person. Everybody loved Kyle. Even my mother-in-law adored him.”
Kyle would often meet the twins at the bus stop after school.
“He was great with kids,” Thais Rochester said.
The couple’s twins still talk about Kyle.
“They remember him always buying them ice cream,” Joseph Rochester said.
Kyle worked for an ice company, a job his uncle helped him get. When he landed a position at a local lumber yard, he was excited because the new job meant more security, and better pay and benefits.
“He was doing what he needed to do to make himself better,” Thais Rochester said. “I told him how awesome he was doing.”
On the Fourth of July, Kyle offered to watch the twins, but Thais said she and Joseph wanted him to go out and have a good time.
“It was the one time he went out,” she said. “Usually he just worked.”
Joseph Rochester worked the holiday. He arrived home about 12:30 a.m. July 5. He recalled sitting on his porch when an ambulance sped by.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. He went inside and laid down.
Before long there was a knock at the door. He thought it was Kyle arriving home. But it was a familiar woman alerting him to what had happened to Kyle.
The words, “He’s been shot,” still play in Joseph Rochester’s mind.
“That ambulance I saw,” he said, “I realized it was going to Kyle.’
‘One of a kind’
When Tammy and Al Coston married in a wedding chapel in Yeadon 19 years ago, both Kyle and Collin walked their mother down the aisle.
Kyle called his stepfather Mr. Al.
“He always made me feel welcome. He was always respectful, never the typical ‘You’re not my dad’ attitude,” Al said. “For the short time I was around him, and from the stories I’ve heard, if he could help anyone, he would.”
It was early July 5, 2012, when the phone rang, awakening Al and Tammy at their home in Jonesboro, Georgia, nearly 750 miles away from Trainer, Pennsylvania. Adriana, who was middle school age, was also home.
Tammy remembers Al answering the phone.
“I heard him say, ‘what,’ and then he told me Kyle had been shot,” she said.
Tammy remembers getting herself together enough to call Crozer-Chester Medical Center. After speaking with a doctor, she told Adriana what had happened, and that her brother’s condition was not good.
“She let out a scream I had never heard,” Tammy said.
Meanwhile, Al Coston got busy on the phone making travel arrangements for his wife. For Kyle’s mother, the two-hour flight to Philadelphia felt endless.
At Crozer, Tammy was able to see Kyle. Working in the medical field, she knew the heart-wrenching decision she was facing.
The family had time to gather before a Crozer physician pronounced Kyle’s death at 6:20 p.m. July 5.
The large crowd of mourners who gathered at the Edward L. Collins Funeral Home July 11 for a viewing and July 12 for services prior to Kyle’s burial in Oxford Cemetery, brought some comfort to the family.
“It was just so sad,” said Bernice Gray, Kyle’s great-aunt.
Kyle’s mother made certain he was buried in Nautica clothes, she said.
“He was one of a kind,” said Bernice Gray, who along with her husband, Stanley, still miss their weekend visits with their great-nephew at their home in Lincoln University.
“He would call, and we would go get him,” she said. “We enjoyed having him here.”
Bernice Gray chuckled at the memory of Kyle bringing his favorite Yuengling beer. “I think he just enjoyed relaxing, just chilling,” she said.
Kyle was handy and always quick to help his relatives.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better great-nephew,” Stanley Ringgold said.
Kyle Haley was among a core group of 10-15 guys in the Marcus Hook/Trainer area who considered themselves family, said Holly Duke-Rambo. Her two brothers were part of the group.
“Most of the guys were friends since elementary school. Kyle joined around the late 90s,” she said.
“He was humble and respectful. He was laid back, observing a lot of what was happening around him. When he did speak, you wanted to listen, because he was smart,” said Allison Taddei, a friend who met Kyle through her children’s dad who, too, was among the core group.
“Anyone who knew Kyle knew how loyal he was to family and friends,” she continued. “Everyone who knew him respected him.”
While Kyle’s last incarceration interrupted their friendship, she said they picked up right where they left off when he returned home in 2012.
“He was so determined to be independent, to build his life back up,” Allison Taddei said.
Among his group of friends, Allison said Kyle was the glue. When he died, she said many went separate ways.
Allison, who lives in Marcus Hook near to where the shooting occurred, drives by the scene every day on her way to work.
“I’m so angry this happened to him. He was a good person … he had a desire to help others,” she said. “No one I talked to ever had an issue with him.”
Persons of interest
Police were called to the 3900 block of Post Road about 12:48 a.m. July 5. Arriving officers found Kyle Haley lying face up and unconscious but breathing.
Haley was taken to Crozer, where he died about 18 hours later, surrounded by loved ones.
His Uncle Russ Reed, a police officer in Wilmington, Delaware, at the time, was at work when he got the call from a relative and rushed to the hospital.
Two “youths” identified as persons of interest shortly after the shooting continue to remain persons of interest in the ongoing homicide investigation, according to Tyler.
Several weeks after Haley’s death, a warrant sweep was conducted in Trainer and neighboring towns. According to authorities, everyone who was brought in was questioned about the case.
“We did get some information, just not enough,” Tyler said.
Meanwhile, the case file remains on his desk.
“This is a case I always think about. I’m just waiting for a break. Any information, no matter how minimal you might think it is, could be the information we need to make an arrest,” Tyler said.
“Every lead to this point has been followed,” said James E. Nolan IV, chief of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division. “It’s been 10 years and a lot has changed in the lives of those who we believe know what happened. We are hoping they’ll decide it’s finally time to come forward and assist us in bringing closure to this homicide.”
As they raise their own children, Brittany, a mother of one daughter, and Collin, a father of two boys, said their brother’s absence continues to cut deep.
The last time Kyle was together with his family was at Brittany’s baby shower, just weeks before his death.
“Seeing him with family, his brother and sisters, it was good,” said Grandmother Freda Reed. “It’s a good memory.”
Brittany thought Kyle would meet his niece in the hospital. But Kyle, who smoked cigarettes, thought it was best for him to stay away from the newborn, who spent 10 days in the neonatal intensive care unit following her June 8 birth.
“He was being respectful … that was Kyle,” Brittany said.
Brittany then hoped they would meet at a family barbecue on July 4.
For whatever reason, Kyle decided not to go.
Before Kyle was taken off life support, Brittany brought her baby girl, whom she had named Britain, into the hospital room to meet her Uncle Kyle.
“It was just the three of us,” recalled Brittany. “I know he knew we were there.”
It was not long after Brittany’s baby shower that Collin found out he was going to be a dad. He knows his sons, Collin Kyle, 8 1/2, and Arlo Amare, 4, would have loved their uncle, and Kyle would have loved them.
Collin tries to “numb” that part of reality, but it’s hard.
“Taking him away from everybody is not OK,” he said.
When Adriana graduated from Middle Georgia State University in 2019, she attached a photograph of Kyle to her cap, along with pictures of her mom, stepdad, and siblings.
“Kyle was with me,” she said.
For Freda Reed, there will be “no peace” until justice is served for Kyle.
“I pray that somebody, if they know anything, will come forward,” the grandmother said.
It is a sentiment Kyle’s mother, siblings, other relatives, and friends all share.
At age 9, Britain Foster has this message for her uncle’s assailant(s):
“You should have confessed by now … What you do comes with a consequence.”
She and her daughter will continue to pray that those responsible for Kyle’s murder come forward, Brittany Haley said.
“Please, tell us what you know. We know it’s not going to bring Kyle back. But there would be some accountability that justice will be served,” Aunt Ericka Okafor said.
Talking about Kyle helps to ease his mother’s pain.
“His death was devastating on the family … I have to tell my story, talk about what happened to my child. You are not supposed to bury your child. Your child is supposed to bury you,” Tammy Ringgold-Coston
said. “I know that one day everything will come out and I might not be here to hear it or see it. But his kids are here and that will be good enough.”
It was not until July 2021 that Tammy decided to have a headstone, which she designed, placed at Kyle’s grave.
“I really wanted the person to be caught before I laid a stone. I just felt if I put the stone, it was final,” she said. “As a mother, I feel like I let him down because we still don’t know who the person is.”