Eric Walber

Eric Walber

Every evening for months after her son was murdered, Cherie Walber walked along road ditches in her area, looking for some kind of clue.

She had trouble accepting that he was gone. Each morning, she'd check the obituary section of the newspaper to see if there might be a retraction printed there for her son's death. 

Eric Walber was found slain along a road in Tangipahoa Parish in April 1998, when he was just one month shy of his 17th birthday.

His mother, Cherie Walber, has remained diligent in staying on top of the investigation and court proceedings since that time. Walber said she has spent 146 days in court since his death, and she plans to keep showing up.

"I've got to take care of Eric," Cherie Walber, 62, said in an interview Thursday. 

Court proceedings will continue with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Michael Wearry's conviction and call for a new trial. Two of his co-defendants have also asked for new trials. 

Walber, who spoke confidently and with remarkable optimism throughout the interview, said she understood from the day her son died that "this would be forever."

She said neither the high court's decision nor the subsequent appeals surprised her or shook her confidence in the prosecution. 

"In my heart, I know these boys did it, and if for some reason they are able to walk, I still know they did it," Walber said.

Walber said her certainty is based in the testimony she heard at the trials she sat through. She also said she felt the prosecutors and police worked hard to get justice for her son.

She described Eric Walber as a reserved and quiet boy. On the day he was killed, he took the ACT test in the morning, she said. He was planning to leave the next day on a community ski trip in Colorado that he paid for with money he earned himself.

Walber said her son's death shook the family. Her husband, George Walber, died of alcoholism nine years after the murder, she said. His younger brother, Luke, was "lost for years," she said.

The family kept on, but they quit much of the fun stuff, such as playing games. About eight years after the death, Walber recalled, she asked her two younger twin daughters if they wanted to play rummy. They didn't know how.

"It dawned on me what was taken away from them," Walber said. 

Follow Caroline Grueskin on Twitter, @cgrueskin.