Maury Co. teams up with FBI to investigate cold case
Amber Elizabeth Cates at age 16.
Age-progressed photo to 22 years, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Investigators in Maury County hope a new billboard and renewed effort will bring clues into the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl six years ago.
Amber Elizabeth Cates was last seen on April 11, 2004 and vanished without a trace.
Her sister, Brenda James, had just gained legal custody of her sibling and remembers the last day they spent together.
"The last time I saw her was just a normal day. We did things all day. I got ready to take her to her mother's and I haven't seen her since," she said.
James told News 2 she's hoping to "get some answers."
"It's been six years of knowing nothing," she continued. "Just not knowing anything, don't know if she's dead or alive or if she's being held captive somewhere."
Cates was originally considered a runaway but as time passed, investigators believed something had happened to her.
There have been very few leads in the case over the last six years, prompting investigators to team up with the FBI and try something new.
They hope a billboard erected in Columbia will help generate new information. A $2,000 reward is also being offered.
"We've got a lot of cold cases. We're trying to do what we can," said Maury County Sheriff Enoch George. "This case came to the top. We're hoping to have closure for the family and move on to the next one."
For James, the new attention the case is getting gives her hope.
"Whether it's bad or good, maybe we'll come up with some answers we've all wanted for the last six years," she said.
If still alive, Cates would be 22.
Anyone with information on the case is urged to call Crime Stoppers or the Maury County Sheriff's Department.