NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It's been exactly 11 years since an East Nashville teenager went missing. Tabitha Tuders disappeared while walking to a school bus stop near her home and has never been found.
To mark the anniversary, family and friends gathered at Bailey Middle School in East Nashville for a candlelight vigil. The crowd lit candles in Tabitha's honor, and prayed. Participants said the annual gathering is an important way to support the Tuders family, and show they still believe Tabitha will be found.
"Things like this are important," said Leslie Brewer, a family friend. "It's important to let people know they need to keep looking. The least little thing can be the thing to unravel the case."
For Tabitha's parents, Bo and Debra Tuders, the day came with mixed emotions.
"My heart says she's out there somewhere," said Bo Tuders. "We just don’t know where."
Tuders and his wife, Debra, said they woke 13-year-old Tabitha up for school the morning of April 29, 2003 and went to work. While she was walking to the bus stop near their home, the unimaginable happened.
"Between 14th and 15th is when somebody took her,” Bo Tuders said. "We thought everything was fine and she just didn't come home for school that evening."
Since then, there's been lots of searching and a decade of anniversaries the Tuders never wanted to celebrate.
East Nashville is also changing. Houses around them are making way for new homes and people who don't know Tabitha's story. That's why they keep a familiar banner with her picture on their front porch.
Detective Steven Jolley, with the Metro Nashville Police Department, said they aren't letting the case go. He recently interviewed a new witness, who offered a new small piece of the puzzle, but they still don't know how Tabitha suddenly vanished.
"I believe there was some type of an abduction involved, but we don't know that for certain,” Jolley said. "There are a few persons of interest that were at least known to have been in the area around the time that Tabitha went missing. That based on their previous history are certainly higher up on that list.”
Until there's evidence proving what happened to Tabitha, the anniversaries will just keep coming as the Tuders struggle on where their little girl could be.
"Hopefully we don't have to wait another eleven,” Bo Tuders said.
The FBI still has a $25,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information should call Nashville CrimeStopppers at (615) 74-CRIME.