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UNSOLVED: The 2000 disappearance of Yvonne Belcher

Those who knew Yvonne Belcher have fought to keep her case in the spotlight for decades. She vanished just before Christmas in 2000 but her family hasn't given up.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. — Yvonne Belcher’s family remembers her as an artist.

They hold tightly to her sketches and notes she wrote her daughter, a woman who loved to draw, write poems and stories. But in her own story, the ending is unclear.

"We have waited for 22 years, I just have this one wish," tells Belcher's mother, Christa Powell. "That before I die, I can bury my daughter."

It was just before Christmas in 2000, Powell and Belcher's sister, Diana Weiss, started to feel something was wrong.

"December 22nd, two days before our family get together, and no one had heard anything from her, that’s when we really started to get worried," tells Weiss.

That same day is the last time Belcher was seen alive.

Det. Bradford Camp with the Green Cove Springs Police department says police were called by a neighbor around 2:30 in the morning on Dec. 22 after Belcher and her husband, Jesse “Andy” Owens, were heard arguing.

"Law enforcement officer responded to the scene, no crime had occurred. There were no injuries. Officer calmed the scene down and they decided to go their separate ways. Yvonne continued walking down Highland Avenue toward SR-16. Andy went back to the house and that was the last time Yvonne was seen," tells Det. Camp.

From there, things get murky.

A newspaper report says Belcher was thought to have gotten a ride with a male acquaintance to a house a few blocks away on Vermont Street and another friend told police he saw Belcher around daybreak, but that was the last reported sighting.

She was officially reported missing by her husband on Dec. 26. He told police in the report, “She has left before, but she has never been gone this long.”  Also, none of her personal belongings were missing.

According to Belcher’s family and police, the couple had a turbulent marriage. There were frequent fights, a history of domestic violence and struggles with drugs.

"A search was done of Andy Owens’ residence here in Green Cove Springs. All of it has led to nothing," tells Det. Camp.

Det. Camp says Owens was cooperative and agreed to take a polygraph.

"However, the night before he was supposed to come in and take the polygraph, he overdosed and died," says Det. Camp.

Following his death, leads dried up. The case grew cold and decades went by.

"Green Cove is a small town and I think for my mom and anyone that knew Yvonne, it is hard to believe there’s no answers and to know how much we loved her and know something happened to her that day, that week. Something happened to her, it is just hard," tells Diana Weiss.

Especially hard for Belcher’s daughter, now an adult and mother herself. Ashley Belcher says she has some memories of her mother, like looking through the fence at her daycare and seeing her mom walking by with their dog.

"It kinda makes me sad because I wonder how many times she walked by just to see me," tells Ashley.

She keeps a folder of her mother's writings and sketches and wants to give her a proper burial.

"She is just dumped wherever she is and there is no dignity in that," she says in a soft voice.

Det. Camp says he believes this case is solvable, but it has been extremely difficult because of the lack of evidence.

"We have little to no physical evidence, we don’t have a body at all. So even the progress we have made in DNA science, it is useless without a body," he explains. 

Recently, Det. Camp says a new suspect has come to light, but they don’t want to release more details about who he is just yet.  But they do say, they believe there are people alive that could have information critical to this case and they don’t want them to fear coming forward even if they were involved in criminal activity decades ago.

"We can assure them, we don’t care if you were involved in drugs 20 years ago. We are trying to solve a homicide," he says. 

It could finally give Belcher’s family a chance to bury her and complete the ending to her own story.

I think everybody deserves that justice," tells Ashley Belcher," And most importantly her."

If you know anything about the disappearance of Yvonne Belcher, contact the Green Cove Springs Police Department at 904-297-7300

Belcher’s sister, Diana Weiss, says her sister’s case motivated her to help women in domestic violence situations. She is now the director of the Quigley House in Clay County. If you are struggling with domestic violence or sexual assault, you can call their 24-hour-hotline at 904-284-0061.

If you live outside Clay County, you can call the statewide hotline at 1-800-500-1119.

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