Investigators, family search for answers 18 years after murder - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Investigators, family search for answers 18 years after murder

Barbara Anderson was killed June 10, 1997. Barbara Anderson was killed June 10, 1997.
Authorities carry Barbara's body out of the woods off of River Road. Authorities carry Barbara's body out of the woods off of River Road.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The mystery behind the death of Barbara Anderson is one of the oldest cold cases on record under investigation by the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. 

Anderson was found on June 12, 1997. Her killer wrapped a hanger around her neck and left her in the woods off of River Road.

Her daughter, Jenn Anderson, who was 20 at the time, is 37, the same age Anderson was when she was killed.

When Anderson, a mother of three, was murdered 18 years ago, Jenn's daughter was just a baby. All these years later, it's hard for Jenn to talk about all that her mother missed because someone took her life.

"I had two other children that she never got to meet because someone decided to take her life," Jenn said. "For what reason? I don't know. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. My mother was my best friend."

Jenn's life drastically changed the day she lost her mother.

"I ended up going through a very deep state of depression," she said. "And tragically, I ended up losing my children because I wasn't able to take care of my daughter because I couldn't deal with everyday life not having my mother in my life."

After overcoming depression, Jenn got her daughter back who will graduate from high school this year. She knows her mom, who dearly loved her granddaughter, would have loved to see that day. Jenn also has two sons, who never got to meet their grandmother.

And since the case was never solved, Jenn has so many unanswered questions.

"Why? Why did you take my mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt away?" she asked. "What on the earth did she do so wrong for you to want to take her life?"

Whoever took Anderson's life wrapped a hanger around her neck some 17 times. The official cause of death was asphyxiation.

Investigators think she died between 7 and 8 p.m. the night before her body was found.

Her killer dumped her body in a wooded area off of River Road, where fishermen would park and others would go to loiter.

Investigators said Barbara lived what they call a "high risk lifestyle." She worked as a prostitute and was a drug user. Still, Jenn tells us her mother was trying to turn her life around when she was killed. Jenn said Barbara was a good mother and kind person, who didn't deserve for this to happen to her.

Jenn said she won't be able to get peace until she gets answers about who killed her mother.

"I want justice for my mother," she said. "That's all I'm asking for."

Jenn may get justice after all.

The New Hanover County detective working the case, Ken Murphy, said they are retesting physical evidence and he expects to have the results back within the next 60 days.

Murphy said they have a few suspects in mind and this could either rule them out or prove that one of them is Anderson's killer.

If you have any information that could help investigators, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-531-9845. Your identity will be protected and you could get a reward of up to $5,000.

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