After 20 years, can the Mischelle Lawless case be solved? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

After 20 years, can the Mischelle Lawless case be solved?

Posted: Updated: 11/8/2012 7:24:50 PM
Thursday marks the 20 year anniversary of the murder of Mischelle Lawless. Thursday marks the 20 year anniversary of the murder of Mischelle Lawless.
Investigators believe her real killer will be found. Investigators believe her real killer will be found.
Walter and his investigators are working to trace a number of clues from that piece of information. Walter and his investigators are working to trace a number of clues from that piece of information.
Walter says they need first hand information to finally give Mischelle's family closure. Walter says they need first hand information to finally give Mischelle's family closure.
Joshua Kezer says he regularly gets tips from people who say they have information about Mischelle's killer. Joshua Kezer says he regularly gets tips from people who say they have information about Mischelle's killer.
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SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

Thursday marks a grim anniversary in Scott County, the murder of Mischelle Lawless.

Twenty years ago, a part-time deputy, now Sheriff Rick Walter, discovered her body near the Benton, Missouri exit.

Investigators believe her real killer will be found.

Just three weeks ago investigators got a very compelling lead with a lot of potential.

Walter and his investigators are working to trace a number of clues from that piece of information.

It's just one of dozens of leads Walter and his detectives believe will eventually solve this complicated case.

It's a story with all the elements of a murder mystery. But this case is real, and the ending unwritten.

"I can see it as clear as I'm looking at you right now," said Sheriff Rick Walter.

Walter says he still sees the Benton exit through the eyes of a part-time deputy.

On November 8 1992, Walter discovered the body of a young nursing student. Mischelle Lawless was shot and brutally beaten.

"This comes up daily," said Walter.

Twenty years later, he's constantly working the case.

"Within in the last couple of weeks we got hit with some pretty good leads and we've been working several hours a day on those," Walter added.

They brought in files from a room at the sheriff's office. Cameras and most people aren't allowed and the room is devoted only to the Lawless case.

"I think that there's stuff in those boxes that could help the case, forensic science as well," said Sgt. Brenden Caid. "But we need to run down what's in those boxes so we can cross everybody off the list."

Sgt. Caid says items like tapes from old interviews, or a copy of Mischelle's old diary combined with new tips could help them find her killer.

"A lot of them come from anonymous emails," said Sgt. Caid. "We get them local, out of the state and a few out of the country. We get some from department of corrections across the state and we try to prioritize those."

The mystery thickened in 2006 when Walter reopened the case believing Josh Kezer was wrongfully convicted of Lawless' murder.

In 2009, Kezer was declared an innocent man.

Walter says the investigation has been a roller coaster once prosecutors zeroed in on Joshua Kezer.  In the 90s, multiple leads were never followed. Now, investigators work to trace every one.

"Nothing was followed up on these other leads," said Walter. "People that live in other parts of the country, people in jail, people that's passed."

Walter says they need firsthand information to finally give Mischelle's family closure.

"I don't know why you wouldn't come forward," Walter said. "I guess people are afraid of what may have happened to them."

People in the community say there is still plenty of fear surrounding the case because many suspects are still in the area.

Joshua Kezer says he regularly gets tips from people who say they have information about Mischelle's killer. He also prays for justice.

If you have information on the Lawless murder, contact the Scott County Sheriff's Office.

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