Three years later, death of Jade Winston remains a mystery

</element><element id="paragraph-1" type="body"><![CDATA[After three years, the family of Jade Winston still has more questions than answers regarding her mysterious death.

Winston, 18, 714 N. Mill St., Carrier Mills, was found dead in her residence 10:54 p.m. Aug. 17, 2007 after a neighbor reported hearing a gunshot. Just over 24 hours later her brother, Jerome Mitchell, died in a single-vehicle crash at the intersection of old state Route 13 and new state Route 13 in Harrisburg. A passenger was seriously injured in the crash.

Nobody has been arrested in connection with Winston&#39;s death, which was ruled a homicide by a coroner&#39;s jury over two years ago.

"We&#39;re still seeking closure," April Scales, Winston and Mitchell&#39;s aunt, said.

"The investigation is still open as far as we know."

Officers found Winston in the floor in a large pool of blood and body tissue. The clip from a 9mm semi-automatic pistol was found in her left hand and the weapon was found under her left leg. The gun was reported stolen from Raleigh several months before.

The Sheriff&#39;s Department assigned two investigators to the case. Deputies Mike Jones and Todd Fort spent a great deal of time talking to potential witnesses, reviewing evidence from the crime scene and trying to look at the evidence from fresh angles, Sheriff Keith Brown said.

The Sheriff&#39;s Department has given polygraph tests, called in the Illinois State Police crime-scene technicians and even the FBI to look at the evidence. Jack T. Nolen, a former detective with the Department of Criminal Investigation, reviewed the case thoroughly for the State&#39;s Attorney&#39;s office. But investigators remain stymied by the case.

"We do believe there is someone out there with a piece of information that may shed some light or give us guidance," Brown said.

The Sheriff&#39;s Department has not had any leads in a while, but officers never close the book on cases like Winston&#39;s, Brown said.

"It&#39;s not unusual for something to come along that sheds light," Brown said.

That "something" may be a new piece of evidence, someone who comes forward with more information, or new technology that reveals a facet of the case that was not available before, Brown said.

Family members and authorities hope anyone who knows something about the Winston case will contact sheriff&#39;s deputies. Winston&#39;s family thinks about her every day and are haunted by the unsolved case.

"We basically have a murderer among us," Scales said.

"All we know is that she&#39;s gone, but we don&#39;t have anything to help ease that fact."

-- Brown said anyone who might have information related to the case should contact Investigator Mike Jones at 252-8661.