Authorities looking into new information in Butler County - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Authorities looking into new information in Butler County cold case

A grave exhumed, a case re-evaluated. A grave exhumed, a case re-evaluated.
Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999, is pictured here with her daughter Mindy. Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999, is pictured here with her daughter Mindy.
"Sometimes I just feel like I'll never get the truth," said Mindy Crafford "Sometimes I just feel like I'll never get the truth," said Mindy Crafford
Mindy and Carla Mindy and Carla
BUTLER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

A grave exhumed, a case re-evaluated.  Authorities now say they are looking for new information that could solve the murder of Carla Austin, a Butler County woman killed in 1999.

Just last month, authorities made a decision to exhume Austin's body, just to see if there was anything they missed the first time around.

"Sometimes I just feel like I'll never get the truth," said Mindy Crafford, Austin's daughter.

Now, Crafford remembers her mother's disappearance through the eyes of a little girl.  She was just eight years old when her mother disappeared, and was later found dead.

"I remember hugging her neck and saying goodbye," said Crafford.  "I remember thinking I was going to see her in a few days." That was August of 1999.

Austin dropped Mindy and her sister Kristi off with an aunt in Butler County before going out for the night near Qulin.  She never came back.

"Three months went by without us knowing anything," said Crafford.  "I remember my family looking for her and not telling us much because we were so little.  It was hard to understand."

Then in November of the same year, hunters discovered Austin's body near County Road 663.  A murder investigation followed, yet nearly 13 years went by with little progress.  Meanwhile, two little girls grow up without a mother.

"It just always is in the back of your mind," said Crafford.  "It's just knowing your mom was gone and she wasn't always going to be there anymore to see you graduate or even when you get married."

Now a woman, Crafford made a decision to visit Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.  She was surprised to hear he was hard at work on the case.

"Her emotions, her passion to want to see this come to an end and see the people brought to justice renewed my ambition," said Sheriff Dobbs.

Sheriff Dobbs says when he dove into Austin's case he saw things that could have been done differently.  So authorities made the decision to exhume her remains.  He says new technology could find more clues.  He also discovered there were plenty of people out there that could have information.

"There were witnesses, there were people who saw what happened, saw an altercation, saw a variety of things on the night she disappeared," said Sheriff Dobbs.  "More than a dozen witnesses come into play in this case."

Now Crafford prays the truth will come out.

"I just want to say that my mom was a good person and a wonderful mother," said Crafford. "She did not deserve what happened to her."

Now investigators continue to interview witnesses and examine evidence.  This is one of eight cold cases Butler County authorities hope to solve.

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