TULSA - It's the oldest cold case in the Tulsa County Sheriff's Cold Case Task Force's files.
"Found Slain" in bold black letters were the words plastered across the Tulsa Tribune in 1973 describing the result of a spine-chilling encounter.
“Veda was just a totally innocent victim trying to go home after work," said the TCSO Cold Case Task Force Coordinator Mike Huff.
Veda Woodson was 38 years old, living in Sperry, Oklahoma.
Everyone who loved her knew her as Susie.
The name her father gave her before her brother Jack was even born.
“I didn’t know her name was Veda until I got up to the school," laughed Veda's brother Jack Barnes.
Jack and Veda were two of nine children, but their bond was undeniable.
“My wife would call me from work and say, 'Don’t come home, come to Susie’s we’re having supper out there,'" he said.
So when he got a phone call on July 26, 44 years ago...
“My brother called me and said that they can’t find Susie.”
Tragedy was far from his mind.
“There’s nothing that could’ve happened. We knew that she was somewhere and we were going to find her. We didn’t know where, but we knew we were going to find her and she was going to be ok.”
He and his brothers joined police thumbing through the eerie fields surrounding North Cincinnati Avenue.
“My two brothers and I were walking and searching the area, one brother says 'I think I see something' and we did. We found her body there.”
“Veda was on her first night of work, working downtown cleaning an office building," Huff said.
Veda left First National Bank on East 15th Street after a late shift at work.
"She took the Cincinnati road north of the city limits going towards Sperry."
Investigators believe she was having car trouble, that's why she was stopped on Cincinnati; A target for a stranger to approach her, and harm her.
“They busted out a window in her car and got ahold of her, kidnapped her from that location."
It was dark, and the area remote.
“Took her up on a hill nearby, a very secluded spot, and sexually assaulted her and killed her.”
“I didn’t even think of anybody that could be an enemy that could do this. I always thought stranger," Jack said.
He said his family can't talk about it much.
Veda's youngest child was only eight, her oldest eighteen.
“She got robbed of a life at a young, young age," said her great nephew and TCSO Captain Jason Morrison.
He wasn't alive when it happened, but even now he feels the mark it left on their family.
“Our parents, and our grandparents, and our great aunts and uncles, if you were to go out at night and want to go do something they’d always be extremely cautious about ‘hey, remember things can go bad.”
The headlines in the paper chronicled police's struggle to solve the case.
Officials offering rewards, questioning suspects, but none of it leading to answers.
“The sheriff’s office at that time just really wasn’t staffed and equipped to really handle such a heinous murder," Huff said. “Cold cases if they were easy, they wouldn’t be cold.”
Police have a suspect and say he's still alive, but the evidence just isn't there.
“More than anything I believe and hope for resolution, and finding out what happened so maybe you can sleep a hair better at night," Morrison said.
Jack keeps his sister alive with photos remembering the outgoing, joyful sister that was stolen from him.
“I don’t have a very forgiving heart when it comes to this.”
Frustrated that, for now, someone has gotten away with murder.
“I hear a lot of people say that ‘I want to have to forgive them.’ But I don’t have that forgiving heart.”
So while forgiveness isn't in the cards he's still hopeful a resolution is.
The sheriff's office investigation is moving forward with new leads.
If you have any information you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.
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