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Cold Case: a daughter searches for closure

By Chris Hurst, churst@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 10 2013 05:38:53 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 10 2013 07:16:00 PM EDT

Nearly 30 years ago, a single mom was brutally stabbed, robbed and her body left in her car at Towers shopping center.

ROANOKE, Va. -

Cindy Treadway remembers her mom, Doris Pickeral as a woman who always put on a happy face. When Cindy was a teenager, her mom's new husband committed suicide. It devastated her mom.

"She tried to hide it a lot," she remembers. "I saw her cry a few times, she had a couple breakdowns."

The nursing home aide was not doing well in the winter of 1984. She battled depression and doctors were worried about her health. In the first week of March, she was going to a rehab center in Roanoke for exhaustion. She would leave during the day and on Monday the 8th, she was supposed to see her physician. Cindy was going to meet her.

"She should've already been there and they said she didn't show up," she recalls. "So I went back to the rehab, I went by her psychiatrist's office, I went around to all these places. I just didn't know what was going on, she always let us know where she was at."

Detective Lin Manning is the cold case investigator for Roanoke police. He says Pickeral was missing for two days before her car was found in a part of the parking lot at Towers Shopping Center. In the backseat, an officer found her body.

"The nature of her death, the cause of her death was a very violent one," he says. "She had been stabbed."

Suicide was ruled out, as were anyone she knew as possible suspects. For the two days she was missing, her daughter Cindy was frantic.

"We even drove to my step-father's grave to make sure he wasn't there and just driving and looking and asking if they've seen here anywhere and-- nothing." says Treadway. "Then I think it was around seven on Thursday morning, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office came to our door and gave us the news. I just broke down crying and my grandmother did too, we just couldn't believe it."

Police still don't have a named suspect, and leads have run cold. Now nearly thirty years later, Cindy is a mother of her own and still wants to know who killed her mom.

"Everyday, everyday it crosses my mind," she says.

A few years ago, Det. Manning discovered DNA that's not Pickeral's on her clothing. It didn't match any known samples, but it is in the national database, waiting for a hit. They do confirm items were stolen from her body, including jewelry. If you have any information or tips call Roanoke Police at 540-853-5305