Deborah Deans, 29, went missing from her sister-in-law’s house in Nash County, North Carolina, on Jan. 19, 2004, but investigators were unable to solve her case until earlier this month.
A crucial tip, which ultimately helped investigators solve the case, came from an unlikely source: a community crime-fighting page on Facebook.
The Facebook page “Fighting Crime News and Who’s Wanted” is run by a Nash County woman who is passionate about serving as a liaison between law enforcement and the community.
Even though the woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has helped solve crimes before with her Facebook page, she said this is the first time she has helped solve a missing person’s case, according to WTVD-TV.
For nearly seven years, the woman has posted unsolved cases and other news from local North Carolina law enforcement agencies for citizens who enjoy being informed about crime in their area.
“I found out a lot of people don’t like talking to law enforcement, so for a lot of people they’re just scared,” the page moderator told WNCN-TV.
According to People, a post about Deans’ unsolved case shared on Oct. 20 prompted a “very detailed” email that the owner of the page promptly forwarded to authorities.
The tip included details about where Deans’ body could be found and how it was buried in Deans’ sister-in-law’s backyard.
“I can’t say what it actually said,” she told WTVD. “But it was pretty in-depth.”
Deans’ sister-in-law, 49-year-old Kimberley Hancock, still lived in the residence and when authorities investigated the legitimacy of the tip they found a shallow grave, which contained human remains, on Thursday.
Hancock was ultimately charged with one count of first-degree murder in the 15-year-old case.
“We were able to paint the picture of what actually happened 15 years ago and we wanted to verify some information with her,” Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina, according to WTVD. “Based on that information, we were able to obtain a warrant.”
Nash County Sheriff recognized that the case may not have been solved as quickly without the help of the tip from “Fighting Crime News and Who’s Wanted.”
“We do not solve these cold cases without the solicitation of the public,” he said, according to WTVD. “And that’s the reason I want to urge people, if you see something or know something, put it out there. Let us know through any of the news outlets and we’ll work these cases.”
The woman from the crime-fighting Facebook page said she feels like she’s only doing her civic duty by running the page.
“I’m glad I’m a part of it,” she told WNCN, “but I also got to give credit to the people who sent the tips and kept it alive.”
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