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Crime Stoppers: 27-year-old killed while walking her dog

10:07 PM, Oct 8, 2010   |    comments
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Spring Hill, Florida - For Gail Lawrence, the pain hits her every time she opens her eyes in the morning.

"This time of year is so hard for me.  I can't believe she's gone," Gail says.  "I miss her so much."

That's when the tears begin.

"She didn't deserve this. She had her whole life ahead of her, so many dreams and hopes, and now they'll never come true," Gail sobs.

Just the sight of this grieving mother would bring anyone to tears. The pain is palpable.  Her daughter, Jessica, is gone. Forever.

The 27-year-old bright-eyed young woman was the life of the party. 

"She would make sure you knew she was there, " Gail says with a brief smile. "She would always run into the house and yell, 'Mom, I'm home!' I would always tell her she didn't have to yell so loudly, but that was her way.  She was full of life."

Jessica was with her boyfriend on October 25, 2008 as they walked a friend's dog near the intersection of Monte Verde and County Line Road on the Hernando-Pasco border.

It was just after midnight when a hit and run driver was speeding through the neighborhood.  Jessica died in the street.

Her boyfriend was hurt, but survived the accident.

Jessica's sister, Rebecca, never knew the last time they saw each other would be the final time.

Rebecca wiped away tears as she told us what happened.

"The last thing I said to her was, 'I love you.' That was it. If I would have known it would have been the last time I talked to her, things would have been so different," Rebecca told 10 News.

Losing her sister was unimaginable, Rebecca says. She describes it as a living nightmare she faces each day.

"They took a huge part of our family away, you know. Our life is never going to be the same again, ever," Rebecca says.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab has been working on forensics in the case, since the same vehicle that hit Jessica also hit several mailboxes nearby. Lab technicians are hoping to pinpoint the make, model and color of the vehicle driven by the killer.

Detectives found paint on the victim's clothes at the crime scene. Jessica was walking that night with her boyfriend, as she did nearly every night. They enjoyed walking a friend's pit bull before going to bed.

Gail Lawrence, Jessica's mother, is consumed by grief, she says, and cannot accept the fact that her baby girl is gone.

Gail told us, "She didn't deserve this. She had her whole life ahead of her, so many dreams and hopes, and now they'll never come true."

Gail is pleading with the public to come forward with any information. She says she cannot eat or sleep, knowing that Jessica's killer is still out there.

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of Jessica's killer.

The Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay number is 1-800-873-TIPS. 

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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