ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WFXR) — For nearly eight years, family and friends have been left without answers on what happened to Heather Hodges.

“It’s been hell. It’s been a roller coaster,” said long-time family friend, Amanda Pagans.

Several months ago, however, investigators came to Hodge’s sister, Crystal Songer, on why it’s taken this long.

“I know it seems like it’s taken a very long time, but people weren’t coming forward in the beginning. They were scared,” Songer said.

According to Songer, the case had also passed from the hands of six or seven investigators, but now there’s a new set of hands, and Songer says this investigator is different than the rest.

“Sheriff Overton (Franklin County) hired her specifically for this case, and she’s not going to give up. She’s very determined,” the sister said.

This information came to the media only recently, but it came to Songer and the Hodges family months ago. Heather and Crystal’s mother had fallen very sick, and law enforcement wanted to give her some sort of closure on how the case had been going. She would later pass away.

What hurt the most for Songer, Pagans, and the Hodges’ family was when the case switched from missing person to homicide investigation.

“You get to a point where you’re like ‘Well, I know she wouldn’t miss her baby’s birthday. I know she wouldn’t miss Mother’s Day. I know she wouldn’t miss Christmas.’ And that’s hell because you know that she loves her family enough to come forward,” Pagans said, fighting back tears.

While a memorial was set up in Heather’s honor at the place she was last seen, Songer said the memorial is in the wrong spot. She received a call from investigators the day she interviewed with WFXR, confirming where Heather Hodges likely spent her last moments alive.

“My sister was last in her home. That’s where she was murdered,” Songer said.

Multiple organizations like Save the Next Girl and the Aware Foundation, as well as volunteers, have kept Heather’s story alive, and Songer says it’s that determination that will eventually get to the truth.

“We’re not going to let them forget,” Songer said.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says they will be delivering an official statement on the investigation on April 9, eight years to the day that Heather Hodges mysteriously disappeared.

LATEST STORIES: