Cracking a cold case: Family fights to find missing mother

Cracking a cold case: Family fights to find missing mother

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a cold case nearly 40 years old of a missing mother. Now her adult children are tackling the investigation with their own resources, determined to solve her disappearance.

The main suspect may have taken the secret of her death to his own grave.

This story started in Moundsville, West Virginia. A young mother of two, Annita Price was going through a divorce and custody battle. She was on her way to work in May of '74, but never made it there.

Her case quickly stalled out, filed away for nearly 30 years until a cold case team was created. Ten years ago, that team brought cadaver dogs to an area based off a tip from an informant.

According to Annita's daughter, Madonna Layne, that tip led investigators to a site where her dad used to work. He would have been installing power poles, with access to equipment capable of digging ten feet into the ground.

Madonna now lives in Richmond and continues to search for answers in her mother's disappearance. "Even though I know in my heart she was murdered, that she didn't abandon me, as a little kid, you could still hold out that hope. I was always looking for her in a crowd, always hoping I'd do good enough for her to come forward," she shared.

She said her dad remains the main suspect in her mom's disappearance.

When the cold case team brought the cadaver dogs to the site, the dogs alerted to human remains being found. Layne said after a short dig, an expert called off the excavation, deeming it improbable any remains were there.

Last fall, the family used private resources to search again. Again, cadaver dogs alerted of human remains. Layne said they came almost exactly in the same spot as ten years before. The family then brought in ground-penetrating radar and believes there's a disturbance in the ground which could be their mother's grave.

"You don't grieve the way you grieve when someone dies. You never get that final saying goodbye moment, it's always a limbo," expressed Layne.

The land in question has since been bought and developed. Now, Annita's family needs to find the funds and resources to bring in an environmentalist to plan the excavation, while also paying for the equipment to do so.

They will also have to pay for a temporary irrigation system leading to a retention pond, and any repairs necessary following the dig.

Click here for more information on Annita Price's case and how to help the family visit.

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