This month marks 16 years since a Charlotte teenage mother was murdered at the playground where she often played with her infant son.
And yet, no one has been charged with the killing of 18-year-old Alkia Rodgers.
Chapter one: "A horrible way to die"
Southside Park looks pretty much the same as it ever has. It's hard to believe it was the scene of such a brutal crime.
"It ain't even safe no more [sic]," said Evelyn Hancock, who lived by the park near the corner of Remount and South Tryon.
Rodgers' body was found at the top of a slide by some children on the evening of May 22, 2003, one day after she was reported missing by her family. They were walking through the park and saw her. She was discovered with her throat slashed.
"She was a beautiful person, loved her family. She loved her baby," said Rodgers' aunt.
The medical examiner said it appeared the former Myers Park student was strangled before her throat was slashed.
"It's really sad, it's a horrible way to die," said cold case detective Ed Williams. "It's very sad, it's awful."
Rodgers' body was found about 1,000 feet from her family's home. She was going to meet her 1-year-old son's father at the park. Detectives immediately had a suspect.
Chapter two: The case goes cold
Williams said that Rodgers would frequently go to the park to meet her child's father for diapers, food and other things. He was very active in helping raise his son.
The obvious first question — is he a suspect?
"Yes he was, and he was questioned extensively but nothing has ever been proven," Williams explained. "He still is a suspect, there are lots of people who are suspects."
The case went cold in 2007 but Detective Williams and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's cold case unit have been working it again over the last two years, desperately searching to find Alkia's killer. Williams said they have extensive DNA evidence, including the suspect's, but so far there hasn't been a match.
Not even her son's father.
"Her boyfriend's DNA was not found at the scene," Williams said. "We need to make it to someone and if we match it to someone, I think we'll be OK."
Chapter three: Did Alkia Rodgers' killer know her?
Detective Williams said he thinks people may have been afraid to come forward with information about Rodgers' killing when it happened. But now, 16 years later, he hopes enough time has passed that someone will talk and help solve the case her family has struggled with for more than a decade.
If nothing else, Williams is confident Rodgers' killing wasn't a random crime.
"Usually when someone is strangled like that and cut in [the] throat, it's usually people that know each other," said Williams.
Does he believe that to be the case here?
"Yes, I do," Williams said. "Without a doubt."
The family is asking anybody who knows anything to step forward. With all of the evidence detectives have, any clue could lead to finding Alkia's murderer.
As for Alkia's son, he was raised by his grandmother before her death. He's now 17 and lives with his aunt, Alkia's sister.
Anyone with information about this cased is asked to call CMPD's Cold Case Unit at 74-336-2358. A reward up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest.