“Everything is OK, dad!” Was the last thing 18-year-old Debra O’Quinn said to her dad before she went into her apartment on the evening of May 7, 1979.

Debra’s father did not know that would be the last time he’d see her alive.

Debra’s father did not know that would be the last time he’d see her alive.

Everything was not OK.

What happened to Debra O’Quinn was a question that plagued Jacksonville for months. But the questions did not begin until the following morning after Debra was dropped off.

When Debra’s roommate came home between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., she found her own brother asleep on the couch. She asked where Debra was and he didn’t know. But as Debra’s roommate looked around she knew something wasn’t right.

There was a lot of blood; blood on the walls, drag marks on the carpet, in the bathroom.

She asked her brother what happened and he said he thought there had been some kind of accident. He had attempted to clean up some of the blood in the bathroom but abandoned the task and fell asleep on the couch.

Homicide Detective working the case at the time, Jerry Parker, was quoted in an old newspaper article, "He [Debra's roommate's brother] thought it was menstrual blood and decided to clean it up. He's just awfully naive."

When Debra wasn't seen at work that morning, she was reported missing.

Police began canvassing the area and found a potential witness to a crime they knew had taken place.

Sgt. Dan Janson of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit said the witness wasn’t sure what she saw but she thought she had heard a woman scream the previous night. According to a newspaper article at the time, the neighbor heard the commotion between 1:15 a.m. and 2:15 a.m.

“She got up and looked out the window and she saw a lot of activity at Debra’s apartment, she said all the lights were on and there was a male walking throughout the apartment,” said Janson. “She sees him leave the apartment and walk down to a pickup truck and was carrying something, she said ‘I thought it was a tire, but it wasn’t round like a tire.;”

Police believe the strange shape may have been Debra’s body as the suspect carried her away to hide the evidence.

The article detailed, "But the neighbor said two voices became one when the trunk was slammed shut."

A knife was confiscated from inside the roommate's brother's truck. Its serrated edge tested positive for bone fragments, but there was not enough to prove that it was human, let along Debra’s, according to Janson.

An article from 1979 stated that the brother had said he had been in the apartment since 3 a.m. and he had not seen Debra, despite Debra’s father confirming he dropped her off at 9 p.m. that night.

One headline read: ‘Foul play feared in disappearance of local girl, 18’ with a photo of Debra smiling. Another headline read: ‘Clues to girl’s fate sought.’

And another: 'Body found in woods.'

Then a final headline, dated Dec. 12, 1979, read: ‘Police launch search for murderer.’

Two men who had found Debra’s body, badly decomposed, in a wooded area off of Mount Pleasant Road. Her skeletal remains confirmed police suspicions: she had been stabbed to death.

Authorities tracked down every lead, including a palm print found in Debra’s room that didn’t match anyone who lived or had been in the apartment at the time of the incident.

“Did that occur at the time of the murder, that palm print? Or was it from a previous visit? We don’t know,” said Janson.

Her case ran cold.

Then, a few years later, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas came forward with a confession. He was known for murders in the southern part of the United States and had spent some time in Jacksonville.

Police took the confession seriously and interviewed him, but it became apparent he was not familiar with parts of the case which were pivotal and his confession was deemed false.

It is not uncommon for killers to try and take credit for murders they did not commit. But with this false confession, there was no solace for the O’Quinn family.

Her case ran cold once more.

Debra’s father died in 1996 without knowing who murdered his daughter.

And now, more than 39 years later, Debra O’Quinn’s murder remains unsolved. However, police are hopeful with the use of DNA and preserved evidence from the case, they will be able to bring the story to a close with one final headline: ‘Murderer arrested.’

For a look at more cold cases you can visit Project Cold Case.

The names have been purposely kept out of this article as this is an open investigation.