OLATHE, Kan. — Decades later the family of a murdered Johnson County teen has hope her case may soon be solved.
On Tuesday, Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden, announced they cracked a nearly 40-year-old cold case. Now, Tawnya Knight’s family is hoping hers is next.
“I love her and miss her. We’re not giving up,” her mother Lori Knight said.
Her daughter, 15-year-old Tawnya Knight was killed after leaving a friend’s house in 1996. The Spring Hill girl’s remains were found in a field next to a graveyard six months later. A metro major case squad was activated, and they ran down more than 100 leads, with no arrests.
“It was like the case just went and sat on a shelf,” Lori Knight said. “Sometimes it seems like I’m ready to give up hope. But then I remind myself, I can’t do that. You know, Tawnya needs justice. And, and this family needs closure, and it’s been a long, hard road.”
On Tuesday, Hayden told families of other victims not to give up hope, and this case being solved was a sign of more cases to come. Captain Josh Theiss with the sheriff’s department says their cold case unit is putting fresh eyes on their cases.
“We just want the other family members, the other victims to know we have a group of people working on these cases,” Theiss said.
There are seven other cold cases in Johnson County waiting to be solved, including Tawnya’s. Hayden said the same detectives who solved Gary Watson’s case are also working on Knight’s.
“He told me that it wasn’t Tawnya’s case. But he also told me that the same ones that just solved this cold case was the ones working on Tawnya’s case, and that they’re not going to give up. And so that that gave me hope still,” Lori Knight said.
After nearly 25 years, Lori Knight is ready to see Tawnya’s killer or killers brought to justice.
“I have spent the last 24 years without my daughter, but yet these people go on and still live their lives, like nothing happened. And something did happen, and they need to pay for it,” Lori Knight said.
Three years ago FOX4 went in depth on Knight’s case speaking to investigators, and her family to recount what may have happened to Tawnya, and who may be responsible.