In the warm light of a May afternoon, Phyllis Glover knelt beside her youngest son's grave in Ridgeville, cradling a fresh flower in her hands — a small gift to mark his 25th birthday.

Glover offered a prayer and planted the gardenia in the soft earth where she had laid Alex Glover to rest six months before. "I miss him so much."

She always counted on her "baby son" who looked out for his mother. She still has a hard time accepting that he's gone.

His family knew something was wrong when Glover didn't return home from a night on the town in December. They spent all morning searching for him before North Charleston police found Glover dead in the Studio Plus Hotel on Northwoods Boulevard.

Someone shot Glover in the groin, stripped him of his cash and belongings and left him to bleed to death in the hotel room where he had been gambling. Investigators found Glover on a bed, covered in blood and clutching a hotel telephone to his chest, police said.

Police said they have a suspect but lack sufficient evidence to make an arrest. Those who know what happened that night aren't talking. That pains Phyllis Glover.

"It hurts me so bad when I think about his last moments. They just left him to die," she said. "They need to pay for what they did. God didn't give them the authority to take my child's life."

Alexander Lamound Glover grew up in Summerville and North Charleston, the youngest of Phyllis Glover's three sons and two daughters. Relatives recall him as a sweet-faced boy with a passion for football and baseball. He was a nice kid, they said, someone who was always willing to help others.

"He was a good boy, always good to his mama," said Earline Bowman, Phyllis Glover's aunt. "He was her backbone."

It was Alex Glover who accompanied his mother to church at House of God in Ridgeville most Sundays. He sat proudly in the front row when she gave her first sermon as an associate minister in 2001. When she took ill last year and couldn't work, Alex Glover took her into his home to live with him. He couldn't do enough for his mother and his 3-year-old daughter, Alexia, family members said.

Glover earned a living in construction after leaving Fort Dorchester High School at age 17. He became a crane operator and helped build the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Last year, the economy slowed and Glover's employer laid him off. Glover supplemented his savings by gambling while he looked for another job, said his older sister, Charmaine Green.

Glover had been an avid gambler since his teens, and he was good. Pool. Dice. Cards. He played them all, and he won.

Glover was on his game the night of Dec. 2, making bets and sinking pool balls at a Rivers Avenue nightclub, said his older brother, Antonio Glover, who was there.

"Everything was cool," Antonio Glover said. "He was smiling. He was making a lot of money."

The brothers left and parted ways around 3 a.m. They talked about meeting up later, but Alex Glover phoned not long after to say he was headed to another spot, his brother said.

His family grew worried when Glover didn't arrive home by the next morning and failed to answer his phone. They called around, trying to find him.

Antonio Glover finally drove to a barbershop on Ashley Phosphate Road that his brother frequented. The men there had heard rumors that Alex Glover had been shot at the Studio Plus Hotel.

Antonio Glover rushed to the hotel and found it swarming with police. His brother's car was parked outside. He pleaded with officer to tell him what happened, to confirm what he already suspected: Alex Glover was dead.

Glover apparently went to a hotel room to get in on a dice game and see if his luck could earn him a little more money, his mother said. Instead, someone shot him and took his cash, cell phone and other belongings and left him to die, his family said.

Investigators located Gary Andrew Ford, 23, the man who rented the room. Ford had left in such a hurry that he abandoned his shoes and forgot his cell phone in the elevator, police said.

Detectives questioned him for hours. Ford told police he fled from the room when he saw guns drawn, but he insists he wasn't there when the shooting occurred, Detective Shawn Patrick said. Police have worked the case from every angle, but no one will say what happened in the room that night, Patrick said.

"We have a suspect. We've had a suspect since Day 1," Patrick said. "But it's tough when no one is willing to talk. It's a game that they play, but it leaves us with no probable cause to make an arrest."

Ford could not be reached for comment last week. By early Saturday, he was in the thick of his own troubles. Ford was arrested after he reportedly led police on a high-speed car chase from North Charleston to the peninsula.

Glover's family is frustrated that no one has been arrested in his killing. They hope someone will come forward to help the police and give them some sense of closure.

Phyllis Glover cries herself to sleep most nights. She doesn't know what to tell young Alexia when the little girl asks why they can't visit her daddy in heaven.

"She don't understand that her daddy's gone and he ain't coming back," she said. "That's a hurting feeling."

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or gsmith@postandcourier.com.