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COLD CASE FILES: Inside the Jodi Parrack murder case

By Kristin Bien
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:17:59 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 14 2013 05:45:16 PM CST

It's been six years since then 11-year-old Jodi Parrack was murdered and her body found in a Constantine, Mich cemetery. As WSBT's Kristin Bien reports, police are still looking for the culprit or culprits.

CONSTANTINE, Mich. -

Jodi Parrack would be 17 now. She would have been in high school and might even have been thinking about attending cosmetology school.

But those things will never be. That's because she was murdered in 2007.

It is a case you have probably heard about. It got a lot of media attention at the time.

However, her family still has no justice. WSBT sat down with cold case detectives who shared more details about this murder case that is unfolding, even 6 years after it happened.

Remembering Jodi

Dozens gathered in Constantine, Mich. last Friday. They lit candles, prayed and watched as lanterns drifted into the sky, all in honor of Jodi Parrack.

For the past 6 years, they've come together on the exact day she disappeared to remember and renew a promise to her.

"I love you baby girl, and I will never give up no matter how hard it is," said Jodi's mom, Jo Gilson, "I'll always fight until whoever took your life pays for what you did."

Jodi's mom is the one paying now. Her daughter had just turned 11. She was a good girl, loved dress up and playing with her friends.

"Beautiful inside and out. She was always happy," said Gilson. "She always wanted to help. She liked to cook. She loved animals. She liked to fish. She was a princess and a tomboy all wrapped up in one," said Gilson.

And the pictures that Gilson has of Jodi illustrate that perfectly. But those pictures and memories are all that is left.

Jodi's Murder

November 8, 2007 started as a normal day. Jodi went to school at Riverside Elementary where she was a fifth grader. After school, Jodi went to a friend's house just down the street. Her mom wanted her home around 5:30 p.m. Police say she left around 4:30 p.m. on a small, silver mountain bike. Jodi never made it home.

"I knew something was wrong," said Gilson. "It was not like Jodi. She never went anywhere without permission. She was always home on time. I knew something was wrong."

But nothing could have prepared her for what was about to happen.

She called police. Friends and family searched the area. And it was Jodi's mother who eventually found her body hours later in Constantine Township Cemetery. The cemetery is just down the street from the family's home -- so close you can almost see it from their apartment window.

"The only good thing to me," said Gilson as she teared up, "I got to hold her one last time. I told her that I loved her. That I was so sorry that that happened to her."

Cold Case Detectives Investigate

"She was laying right about here," says Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Shane Criger. "Her bike was right over there against the tombstone."

Criger met WSBT in the cemetery where Jodi's body was found. Nearby, there is a large tree which has served as a memorial for Jodi over the years.

Criger is one of three Michigan State Police detectives who have been brought in to investigate Jodi's murder. They will work on the case until it is solved. Over the years, he's helped investigate more than 1,400 tips, interviewed upwards of 1,000 people and collected around 600 pieces of evidence. Right now, the team is investigating if where she was found is important to the case. Her body was discovered just feet from a 100-year-old tombstone.

"There is a connection with someone with the last name of Moyer to Jodi," says Criger. The tombstone her bike was propped up against dates back to the 1800s. It has the last name "Moyer" on it.

"It could be a coincidence," says Criger. "It may not be. We are not sure at this point."

In the six years since she was murdered, police have not said how Jodi was killed or if she had been sexually assaulted.

"There are a few things out there that only the person, or persons responsible for this know, as well as us, and we need to keep it that way," says Criger.

But investigators do say they found male DNA on her body. They believe the person who is responsible for her death probably knew her, and they say there is a good chance that more than one person could have been involved.

Investigators say there is new forensic technology available now that wasn't 6 years ago. They submitted DNA last year and again recently. They hope some of the results are back before the end of the year. Also, new technology is available to enhance photos so they are able to see things they haven't before seen.

As far as suspects? Criger says there are definitely persons of interest. He said they have a good idea of what happened to Jodi and who did it. They just need DNA and more people to come forward with information to prove it.

No justice

Six years have passed since Jodi was murdered on that November evening, and there has still been no justice. That is not good enough for Gilson. She wants answers, justice for her daughter, and an end to her heartache.

"When something like this happens, you don't feel anything, but you feel everything at the same time. It is like empty and terrible all at the same time," says Gilson.

If you have any information about Jodi Parrack and what happened to her call detectives. You can remain anonymous.

Crimestoppers: (574) 288-STOP or (574) 342-7867
Cold Case Detectives: (269) 435-1072