RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Judy Rawlings was only 16 when her family reported her missing from her Marsh Mountain Road home in Randolph County on October 5, 2001. A few weeks later, a hunter discovered her partially clothed body in a field about a half a mile from Groom Road.
While investigators worked the case tirelessly, the trail grew cold and no one was ever arrested or charged with her murder.
Now, 18 years later, Randolph County detectives are looking deeper into this case: revisiting the facts and evidence, tracking people down, and re-interviewing them.
"We are attempting to take advantage of some of those gains in technology," said Justin McAdams, a criminal investigator.
"I can say that we do have a piece of evidence that we are interested in, that we have sent back off for some advanced testing. In the future, there may be a few more pieces," said McAdams.
"It’s challenging. I will say that, it’s challenging. It’s fact and it’s evidence-based, you know you have to rely upon witnesses. In any crime, we sometimes are reliant upon others if we don’t have the evidence that we need."
Judy's mother, Tammy Schmidt says, she's hopeful.
"I think they’re really trying hard to help me get it solved now. I really do," she said.
Schmidt remembers the day her daughter went missing.
"I had went to the doctor. I had been going through some cancer," she explained, "And while I was gone, my mother gave Judy permission to go riding on the four-wheeler with our neighbor, Tony Sierra. She never returned home."
Two weeks after she was reported missing, a hunter stumbled upon a body in the woods nearby. It was Judy Rawlings.
"She was partially clothed. There was with nothing left of my child," Schmidt said, "Animals had already been eating on my child. I went out there, six months later after they had retrieved her body, and I even found a bone of my child."
Schmidt says she's spent these 18 years praying for answers and for justice.
"There’s a few people that know what happened to my child. More than one person. We just need them to you know speak up and tell what happened," she said.
"I think we’re going to get the answers we’ve been waiting for."
This case was highlighted on a cable show that recently aired.