MARYVILLE, Mo. -- Social media may soon be credited with helping solve a cold case murder in Maryville. At least according to the amateur sleuth responsible for bringing the four decade old case back to light.
22-year old Theresa Hilt was found stabbed to death in her apartment just a block off the Northwest Missouri State University campus in Maryville. For most of the 40 years that's passed since her murder the case has been cold.
That is until last year when an old friend of the Hilt set up a Facebook page. Now that friend said he believes they are close to finding the killer. As he hovers over his dimly lit screen, Michall Holmes recants decades old memories of his friend, Tess, as he knew her.
"There's a beautiful girl right there," Holmes said while looking at her pictures online. Pointing to one showing the petite, young woman with long blonde hair he said, "That was probably a year before she was murdered."
This is how Holmes spends each night for more than a year, moonlighting as an amateur detective and searching for the answer to the question: Who brutally killed his college friend, Tess?
"She made an impact. She was a force as I said. She was a very gregarious, happy, always smiling," Holmes said.
Old newspaper clippings Holmes has dredged up from the 70's say Hilt was found strangled, stabbed and naked in her bed.
"She had a beautiful life and she should have a family and because of the actions of some person that likes to pull the wings off of flies and torture puppies you know, she's gone," he said.
Gone but not forgotten. It's the Facebook page 'Teresa Sue "Tess" Hilt' and the JusticeforTess.com web page set up by Holmes last March that Maryville Police say have offered up new information and re-invigorated the investigation.
"Really I think the limits haven't even been touched on social media and the Internet," Holmes said.
From Maryville and Chillicothe, to as far away as Italy, Holmes said he's received 400 messages and emails and at least 100 solid tips and leads.
"It is unfair that whoever did this to her probably has gone on to have a life. A life that she didn't get to have," he said.
Now Holmes said he believes they are closing in on the life.
"Just as a layman I would say we have probably six persons of interest who we're looking into very carefully. And I believe that one of those is probably the murderer," he said.
Since Holmes started working on this case, an anonymous donor put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of hilt's killer. If you have information you can email:Tips4Tess@aol.com