It started like a typical Friday night for 18-year-old, Patsy Sparks from Marietta, Ohio.
On April 22, 1992, the social butterfly, known to treat every stranger as a new friend, went to a bar in Parkersburg, West Virginia, about 15 miles from her home. She had plans to go see her grandmother a few blocks away later that night.
She never made it to her second stop.
A missing person’s report was filed and several agencies investigated Patsy’s disappearance. The main lead was from a witness at the bar, who reported seeing Patsy leave with a man named Randy Joe Slider, but there was no evidence to tie Slider to the scene. Slider was convicted in 1993 of felonious assault in an unrelated case, and has since been in and out of prison.
Patsy’s loved ones remember the days following her disappearance as if it was yesterday.
“I was 14 at the time, and back then I pictured her off with her friends having a blast,” Patsy’s cousin, Jessica Whipkey, told Dateline.
But as weeks turned into months, those hopeful images became harder to believe.
Everyone’s fears came true on December 19, 1994 -- more than two years after Patsy first went missing -- when a couple of hunters found her body in a wooded area in Ohio. An autopsy report concluded her death had been homicide.
Now, two decades have gone by and the question of who killed Patsy still looms over Patsy’s family and friends’ heads and hearts.
“Some people don’t even realize it was never solved,” said Whipkey.
In 2014, the Washington County’s Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad re-opened Patsy’s case. The five person squad, made up of two detectives, a special agent and two attorneys, focus entirely on unsolved homicides.
The squad recently solved a 1981 Ohio cold case murder of a fellow deputy. One of the members, Detective Jeff Seevers, credits the success to concentration.
“We get on a case and work on it until we can go no further,” said Seevers. “We want families to know that their case has not been forgotten.”
For Patsy’s family, this squad, along with media attention, gives them a new sense of hope that closure is possible.
“The world we live in may seem wicked at times,” said Whipkey. “But, I believe in my heart something like this can’t happen without a resolution.”