PARKERSBURG - Half a decade after the death of a woman whose remains were found in the burned-out ruins of her family's unoccupied farm, the family continues to plea for information surrounding the incident.
Reported missing three days earlier, the remains of 48-year-old Judith Petty were found Feb. 10, 2008, in a burned-out building of an empty Waverly farm owned by her father, Marvin Petty.
"It has been a cry for help for five years, five painful years, waiting for the predators to be caught," said her sister Kelly Poiani. "Waiting to put the pieces of our souls back together."
Poiani said the family constantly questions why, who and how many people were involved in her sister's death and are asking the public for help in hopes someone knows something and comes forward.
"Just imagining the scenario of the hell Judy must have gone through before her life ended in such a horrible way is unbearable to live with," she added.
On Feb. 6, 2008, Judith Petty was last seen walking from her north Parkersburg home to return books to the Parkersburg/Wood County Public Library. She was last seen walking on Old St. Marys Pike.
The family has been told that a few people told investigators that they offered Petty a ride, but she said "no, thank you" and continued to walk.
"Judy was a very shy person and our family feels she would not have accepted a ride unless she knew the person or was forced against her will into a vehicle," Poiani said.
The case is under the jurisdiction of the Wood County Sheriff's Office and is considered a cold case homicide.
Poiani said her family does not want to hinder the investigation; they just want to see justice served and end their torment.
"We're not going to get her back; we just want justice; no more than any other family would want," she added. "This is one of the hardest tasks we have ever taken on in our lives; not knowing who murdered my sister as well as destroying my parents' farm.
"All of this takes a mental, physical and emotional toll on even the strongest person and we know there has to be someone out there... that knows who this person or persons are."
The Petty family, which includes the victim's parents and four sisters, believes someone is shielding the guilty party and they could harm others.
"We fear the killer could strike again," Poiani said. "We continue to be tormented by this horrendous event and fear people who could lead the police to the killer or killers have not come forward and help finally put an end to our nightmare."
Poiani said the family has been told that someone came forward and said they knew the man who had picked Petty up and dropped her off at the gate to the family farm on W.Va. 31, which was vacant at the time. The farm was then burned to the ground and Petty's remains found there.
"The farm looked like a war zone as the damage was extensive," Poiani said. "Our family believes more than one person was involved in this horrific event that took Judy's life."
Poiani pleaded for those people to come forward and call the sheriff's office to turn the criminals in to the authorities.
"We need help in solving not only Judy's case, but any of the other unsolved cases in Wood County," she said. "It takes the whole community to come together and help keep our city safe by helping out when possible and being involved.
"If we don't get the bad guys off the streets, other families will suffer like we have and I don't want that - we don't want anyone else to feel the way we have," she said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Wood County Sheriff's Office at 304-424-1834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family has started a Facebook page to keep Petty's story alive at Justice for Judith Lynn Petty on Facebook.com.