In 2013, Michael moved out of his mother's Altus home for Lawton. Friends invited him to move in to their new apartment on the west side of town and he was offered employment at a well-paying restaurant in Medicine Park.
The former Altus football player, full of energy and opportunity, jumped at the the chance despite his mother’s concerns.
“I told him I didn't think it was a good idea to move to Lawton,” Cynthia Carter said. “He asked me why, and I told him, I said because there is just too much crime in Lawton. Someone's always getting killed.”
Things were going well for Michael, until April 25th.
“He told me, ‘mom don't worry about me, I'll be okay,’” Carter said. “And so he moved, and two months later he was killed."
Michael answered to the sound of a gunshot and then two more.
Detective David Schucker was called to the crime scene that evening.
"It happened extremely fast,” he said. “Officers were there quick, people called 911 quick. But the perps basically got there, did it, and left."
Schucker said they know marijuana was brought to the apartment the previous night, but authorities doubt Michael was the target.
“Somebody came to the house looking for somebody else,” he said, “and they killed Mr. Carter by mistake."
Despite all the information detectives have, they have no suspect.
Michael’s mother described the haunting moment she found out her son was killed.
“I got on Facebook and I went to Michael's Facebook page and I saw a bunch of ‘Rest in Peace’ and ‘I'm gonna miss you bro’ and so... That's how I found out my son was... was gone,” she said.
Though years have passed since that fateful evening, Carter said time has made the pain only worse.
"As the years go by, it just gets harder,” she said, “because the family so desperately wants and needs that closure. And it's just hard to sit back and wait."
For detectives, waiting is all they can do in a case like this, as Schucker explained.
“ I've spent days just to set down and read it … read it over and over again,” he said. “What have I missed? What is the piece that's missing? How can I find out? What do I need to do next?”
With Schucker in a new job in the department, Lawton Police detective Aaron Molloy is now on the Carter case, and both are desperate for a lead.
"We got a lot of players that we looked at, we got a lot of leads that we ran on but we're back to square one,” Malloy said. “And we need somebody to give us that, that lead that says this is the path we need to go down."
To solve this case, the detectives said someone with information about that day needs to come forward – a sentiment Cynthia Carter shared.
"I also think that people need to stop and think that if this was your son or your daughter,” she said. “What would you want someone to do? Would you want someone to speak up and say something?"
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers of Southwest Oklahoma at 580-355-INFO.