Pasco murder victim ID'd after 29 years

8:08 PM, Jul 22, 2011   |    comments
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Port Richey, Florida - Back in 1982, some fishermen off the coast of Manatee County hooked a murder mystery.

They found a woman's body. She'd been bashed in the head, wrapped in an afghan and tied to a cement block.

About the same time, a 29-year-old Pasco County woman, Amy Rose Hurst, was reported missing. But for nearly 30 years, investigators never linked the two and Hurst's family lived with the torment.

"I think the worst thing is, while I was calling all that time, my sister's remains were sitting one county up, sitting as an unidentified person. That's the saddest part," said Hurst's sister, Judy Briggs, in a phone interview.

At the time she went missing, Hurst had recently moved to Florida with her husband William, who told people she'd run off.

Hurst's two young children, Jeffrey and Lisa, remained in Michigan with their father, Amy's first husband. But as the kids grew into adults, they never gave up searching for their mom.

In 2009, while looking on the DOE Network website, Jeffrey Early read about the body in the Gulf and after calling a detective with the Manatee Sheriff's Office, he recognized a photo of the afghan. It was just like one his grandmother had knitted for his aunt, Judy Briggs.

The FBI then began doing several DNA tests and finally this week, authorities confirmed what Hurst's family had suspected-the body in the Gulf was that of Amy Hurst.

"The best thing and the happiest day we have, is that we finally have her back and we can put her to rest the way she needed to be done years ago," said Briggs. "She didn't deserve this."

But now there is still a murder to solve and Pasco Detective Lisa Schoneman is on the case. 

Schoneman says the investigation will be a challenge because the case is so old and so much has changed over time. For example, Hurst and her husband lived in a mobile home park that no longer exists. Hurst also worked at a Winn Dixie at Ridge Road and U.S. 19 that is also long gone.

The detective is asking for the public's help. "We need people that in 1982 knew Amy, knew Williams, were neighbors, friends, co-workers landlords. Anybody who knew them when they lived here that can maybe shed some light on what happened," Schoneman said at a news conference.

Briggs declined to comment on who she thinks may be responsible for her sister's murder. However, Schoneman is traveling to Michigan on Monday to speak with Hurst's relatives there, including her husband William, who moved back north after Amy disappeared.

If you have any information about this case, please call the Pasco Sheriff's Office at 727-844-7759.

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