Every year in the hot days of July, Lisa Valentino trudges through the woods, dodging trees, sticks and branches to pay her respects to her sister Allison Foy.
"She and another woman, Angela Rothen, were dumped here or found left for dead in 2008," said Valentino. "I would much rather have my sister here. I would trade everything to have Allison back, to have her kids have their mom, I would give it all back to have her here."
Valentino was back in Wilmington attending the Community United Effort in Support of Missing Persons National Conference on Sunday.
While in town, her goal was to meet with the Wilmington Police Department — which has a new detective on the case — and spend a few minutes at the site Foy died.
"I noticed yesterday as we came up to the spot, the whole lay of the land has changed," Valentino said. "Then, I saw this wooden cross nailed freshly to the tree, put up out of nowhere."
Valentino says seeing the cross shook her to her core. While it was at first a mystery as to who put it there, following our report, Foy's daughter, Jordan, called our newsroom and said she put up the cross a few months ago to remember her mother.
Valentino said hope keeps her going and she has a new reason to be hopeful.
On Tuesday, Wilmington police will meet with the founder of M-Vac, a new forensics tool Valentino told the WPD about last month. Only 35 agencies across the country have M-Vac technology, which has helped solve several cold cases.
"Hope sometimes is what gets you through the day and up and out of bed in the morning and that law enforcement is going to check this out and hopefully use it sooner than later, it is really encouraging," she said.
M-Vac is a forensics tool invented in 2007 first for the food industry to pull E. coli and Salmonella off of surfaces.
For the past several years, M-Vac systems have been used like a wet vacuum that can pull decades-old DNA from virtually anything.
"For this suddenly to be on the radar screen, I was like, 'Oh, OK, this is the next avenue here. This is what we have been looking for,'" Valentino said.
Jared Bradley, the founder of M-Vac, is flying in from Utah on Tuesday and will do a live demonstration on WECT News Now on how this technology could perhaps be used on pull DNA from Foy's clothing that is in evidence.
The cost to purchase the system for an agency like WPD would be around $35,000
For Valentino, the new technology presented to law enforcement and the cross present a glimmer of hope, a new page turning, a sign of faith not to stop searching and persevering in the search for her sister's killer.
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