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Unsolved mysteries: Who killed Cindy Elias?

She was only nineteen years old.

Cindy Joy Elias was heading home from an evening with friends around 12:30 a.m. on March 24, 1977. A witness overheard the teenager say she was looking for a ride, adding she might hitchhike.

Sadly, only a few hours later, Cindy’s battered body was found just off a logging road about eight miles north of Aurora, a thirty-minute drive from the bar in Virginia, Minnesota where she’d last been seen. Cindy had suffered severe head trauma.

It’s now been over forty years since the college student’s murder, but neither Cindy’s family nor the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office have given up hope of finding her killer.

Cindy’s sister Judy Edwards gave an interview to local television station WDIO on the anniversary of Cindy’s death. “I would just like to know why she was killed,” Edwards said. “What made somebody think they could actually do something like that?”

Who killed Cindy Joy Elias?

The murder is one of Minnesota’s oldest cold cases. In 2008, Cindy’s body was exhumed in the hopes new evidence would help investigators find her killer. Several tips are called in each year, and every single one is thoroughly checked out.

Police believe whoever killed Cindy had knowledge of the area because of where her body was found.

At the time of her disappearance, Cindy was a college student in Virginia, Minnesota, who planned to become a social worker. She was the youngest girl out of her seven siblings.

If you have any idea what happened to her, please call the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office at (218) 749-7134. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer(s).

Please share this post on your social networks. Let’s do our best to help find Cindy’s killer and bring her family some closure. Have any cold cases been solved in your area?

With files from Rachael Trost, NBC News. Photo courtesy of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

PS – Julie Weflen and Thelma Krull are still missing, and you can help. Krull was legally declared dead in September 2017, even though her body has never been found.

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30 Comments

  1. This must be awful. It’s hard enough to have someone you love be murdered but to know they were never brought to justice is so much worse
    Debbie

    Reply
    • JH

      Agreed, Debbie. No closure. It has to be the worst type of pain. Let’s hope they find Cindy’s killer.

      Reply
    • JH

      Very sad. That’s why the more people who see Cindy’s story, the better.

      Reply
  2. Such a sad and terrible case. let’s hope they find whoever was responsible and give this poor family some peace at last.

    Reply
    • JH

      I really hope so too, Catherine. Please share this post far and wide–you never know who may find it.

      Reply
  3. This family needs closure, and justice. What a sad case. I’m from Minnesota. I’ve heard of this case. How terrifying, as well, that the murderer is still out there.

    Reply
    • JH

      Any insight as a Minnesota native, Mary? Have you heard anything I may have missed? All the articles seemed to repeat the same information.

      Reply
  4. Logging roads are used by semi truck drivers, loggers and hunters. I found out there are hundreds of women who have gone missing over the States where truck drivers frequent. It is a perfect way to be a killer because the person travels for state to state. This man picked her up and may have made advances which she rebuffed and possibly,in anger, started striking her in severe anger and then dumped her body. Unless they can collect DNA under her fingernails and the bastard is in the system, I doubt the killer will be found.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s a great theory, Birgit, and there’s certainly been plenty of truck driver serial killers. Eric Red wrote a great thriller about one called White Knuckle. I highly recommend it.

      In this case, police feel it was someone from the area, but it could be a local trucker, I suppose.

      Reply
  5. I can’t imagine the horror that her family has gone through. They need closure to be able to move on, they need to know who killer her to do this. I hope that when they find this murderer he/she gets life in prison (which I believe is worse than getting a needle). Hopefully he will be beaten every day so he/she will know the how it feels.

    Reply
    • JH

      Agreed, Robin. It has to be so awful for the family. I doubt the killer would get beaten every day in prison, but without a doubt a life sentence is worse than death. Prolonged torture.

      Reply
  6. Unfortunate but a very sad truth about those areas. The more secluded and less urban the more likely shit will be gotten away with. Speaking as someone who grew up in the back woods, I’m not surprised.

    Reply
    • JH

      From one backwoods person to another, I agree. Though I don’t believe any murders were committed in my town.

      Reply
  7. If it was someone traveling through, he’d be really hard to find, especially now with so many years gone by.

    Reply
    • JH

      The police believe it was someone who knew the area well. So most likely a local. It’s still possible someone in that town has the info that could blow this wide open.

      Reply
  8. The more time passes the more difficult it probably becomes to solve cold cases. Unless some ingenious new technologies are invented!

    Reply
    • JH

      Most definitely. DNA helps, but only if there are suspects with samples to compare with.

      Reply
  9. Because I’m far too lazy to search myself, and since I like hearing you tell stories better than google: Are there anymore tidbits of information as to who did this? Any clues at the scene?
    I’ve often joked with friends that the only way to get away with murder anymore is to go kill a random stranger. No motive, no reason to ever return to that place. Even then the odds are you’ll get caught, but I often wonder about these unsolved crimes in those terms.

    Reply
    • JH

      Sadly, nothing. All the articles I was able to find said exactly the same thing. Perhaps the police have some evidence they’re withholding, but failing that, what’s in this post is all there is to go on. So sad.

      Interesting factoid: When tracking a serial killer, if you can figure out who the first victim was, it was usually someone known to the killer or in his neighbourhood. The killings get random after that, so finding the first one is your best bet on tracking him down.

      Reply
  10. I can understand why her sister is keen on solving this mystery. It has to be more than terrible to not understand why.

    Reply
    • JH

      It must be so awful for those left behind. I lost a friend to a car crash when we were seventeen, and you never really get over something like that. And that was knowing why/how she died. Can’t imagine living with a situation like this.

      Reply
  11. On the verge of her life. How sad. Hitch hiking just not a safe bet, especially for a young woman. Then again, she might not of truly hitch hiked. Makes my skin crawl when I think of how I would hop in cars with folks I had only known a few hours as a young adult! Though I wasn’t hitch hiking, I still didn’t know them much more than that. There but for the grace of God go I.

    Reply
    • JH

      Very glad nothing like this happened to you, Barbara. It’s so easy for a seemingly innocent situation to suddenly turn ugly, without warning.

      Reply
  12. The lack of resolution for the family must be horrible. Poor girl, and poor family.

    Reply
    • JH

      I can’t even imagine. Losing someone you love is difficult enough when there’s an explanation.

      Reply
  13. I just feel awful for the family. What a horrible tragedy. I hate thinking about all the monsters that live among us.

    Reply
    • JH

      Sadly, there are far too many.

      Reply
  14. Those cases are so sad because you know the family is agonizing over why it happened and what they could have done to prevent it. =(

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it’s so hard on those left behind. I’m hoping to get an interview with the sister in the New Year.

      Reply

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