Retired Hammond police Lt. Ron Johnson can't forget Alexandra Anaya's homicide, but who could forget this?
Boaters floated across a piece of the Hammond 13-year-old Aug. 16, 2005, in the Little Calumet River in Chicago. Her head, arms and legs were cut cleanly off, and her torso, from her neck to her upper legs, was weighted with chains and straps to the bottom of the river. Her head and appendages remain missing.
"I never don't think about it. It's always on my mind," Johnson said.
The girl's mother, Sandra Anaya, moved recently with her twin daughters to Victoria, Texas. In Texas, the family can remember "Alex" in their home on Christmas or her birthday, instead of everywhere all the time, Sandra Anaya said.
"I still hold out hope that they will find the rest of her and someone will pay for her murder," Anaya said.
"They took 13 years of my life in one night."
Johnson was the leader of Hammond's juvenile division -- a 30-year veteran who helped jail the notorious murderer David Maust -- when he was called into a missing child case. Alex Anaya disappeared from the family home between 4:30 and 6:45 a.m. Aug. 13, 2005. Sandra and Alex Anaya had spent the early morning eating White Castle in their home at 4815 Pine Ave., just east of Calumet Avenue, Sandra Anaya said. The mother left the house and her daughter was gone when she came home.
On Aug. 16, boaters found the torso in the river. Johnson heard about the torso on TV, and he called Chicago police. A detective said the medical examiner's investigator found undigested French fries in the girl's stomach. Sandra Anaya was called to a Chicago police station. Sandra Anaya said she told the detectives her daughter had a scar on her chin and a sprained ankle, unaware that the body was decapitated and legless. Sandra Anaya gave her DNA.
Three weeks later, police told Sandra Anaya the torso was her daughter's.
"She just fell apart, went down to her knees and crawled on the floor, crying and screaming, just lost it," Johnson said.
Suspects in the killing still include "everyone," said Chicago Police Department Homicide Detective Sylvia Van Witzenburg. Van Witzenburg would be happy to hear from Alex Anaya's neighbors and schoolmates, she said. Police still could use "any little bit of information."
Just after Anaya's death, Sandra Anaya's former boyfriend, Rudolfo Heredia, then of Riverdale, stood trial in federal court on charges he stalked the Anayas. He was acquitted.
Sandra Anaya said she wants to find the rest of her daughter.
"I feel that my daughter doesn't rest in peace. Her hands are somewhere else. Her head is somewhere else," she said.
Ron Johnson wants someone to come forward and give the information Van Witzenburg needs to put away a case that plagues him three years after he retired. It's not Johnson's job anymore, but he keeps his own file on Alex Anaya.
"This one, they're so close to doing something with this case."