Fourteen years ago, a teenager left her mother’s home in Maury County and her family never saw her again.  

Amber Cates, 16, seemed to have vanished into thin air.  

“Where could she be? Who took her? What happened to her?” Those are the questions Amber’s sister, Brenda James, has asked herself over the last 14 years. 

What started as a promise to take care of Amber after her father’s death has turned into a mission to find her little sister.  

MORE: Woman fights for information in sister’s missing person’s case

“My dad made me promise before he died. It’s like he knew,” said James. “There’s times I just want to give up, but I can’t. I just keep pushing and pushing and it gets harder. You think it’d be a lot easier after all this time but it [isn’t].” 

James had custody of her sister on April 9, 2004, when Amber was dropped off at her mom’s home for spring break. Amber left the same day with her boyfriend.  

Lt. Jerry Williams with the Maury County Sheriff’s Department has been working on the case for 10 years. He said after hours of interviews with Amber’s friends and family members, he believes Amber’s boyfriend dropped her off after he picked her up from her mom’s. 

The last confirmed sighting of Amber was visiting friends at a construction company office on Mainsail Road.  

Just last year, Maury County detectives brought cadaver dogs to the location to look for clues, but they didn’t find anything. 

Lt. Williams has been across the country and even to Mexico chasing possible sightings of Amber. He said he’s holding out hope that she’ll call one day. 

“I hope she calls me up and says, ‘Hey, you’ve been looking for me,'” he told News 2.  

If you have any information on where Amber Cates could be, you’re urged to call the Maury County Sheriff’s Department or the Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST

Click here to read more stories from our day-long project, “Missing Kid Mysteries.”