Vigil held for Lexington County girl missing for nearly 30 years

Published: Jun. 6, 2015 at 2:10 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2015 at 2:10 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - It has been nearly three decades since the shocking overnight kidnapping of a little Lexington County girl from her home.

Despite much publicity, the case of Jessica Gutierrez has never been solved, her family and friends have not given up.

Saturday evening at 7 p.m, Jessi's family and friends will call on a higher power to give them the peace they've never had.

Jessica Gutierrez has been missing since 1986. She was kidnapped in the dead of night from her home near Highway 6 in the Lexington County community of Red Bank.

"Evil, heartless, cold," said Michelle Sturkie Roberts. "How could you do that to a baby? How could you take a baby from their own family? It's not right. It's not fair."

Roberts and others know the odds grow longer every day that they and the rest of the community will finally find out what happened to Jessi.

That hasn't stopped them from organizing a prayer vigil to be held Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church near the Orangeburg County town of North.

Even as family and friends hold out a faint hope that she might be out there, now, a fully grown woman.

"You hear the story of Jaycee Dugard. 18 years," Roberts said. "You hear of the three girls in Ohio that was captured for all those years. It gives our family just a little bit for more hope and that's why you know with the...we're all wearing purple ribbons tomorrow. That's the color of hope and that's the only thing that's keeping our family going is hope and faith in God that He's going to end this.

That hope did exist and was much stronger many years ago.

When investigators said they'd identified a suspect, perhaps the man who left fingerprints on a window frame at the crime scene. But in 1989 they said the case just wasn't strong enough.

"Jessica Gutierrez investigation will continue as long as it takes," former Sheriff James Metts said in 1989. "We're hopeful that renewed interest in the case will produce information that has so far eluded us."

Jessica's mother Debbie is planning on attending the vigil Saturday night.

She told WIS that she is she is thankful that people still care, but she believes investigators including the former sheriff could have taken more decisive action long ago.

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