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DeBruhl family reflects on 30 years of loss and grief

An ordinary day in the life of the DeBruhl family has transpired into 30 years of grief.

Today, the family of Eva DeBruhl, who disappeared at age 15, will get together around 6 p.m. to do what they have been doing for the past 30 years: Pray, reflect and ask the Lord to give them strength.

"Every day is a day where we remember Eva," said Tami Settlemeyer, Eva's sister. "Anything that would have been special for her, we gather together."

Eva disappeared from her Rock Hill home on June 29, 1977. She had been mowing the lawn when she went inside to get a glass of tea. The tea was found untouched, and she was nowhere to be found. Her grandmother saw a white man on the porch, police have said, but nobody saw anything else.

Neither the family nor the York County Sheriff's Office have found any answers. There have been many leads, but none have materialized. However, the family remains strong.

"We're no closer now to finding her than we were 30 years ago," Settlemeyer said. "The probability of finding her lessens by every day."

Back in the public eye

Around February 2006, the family contacted Monica Caison, founder of the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons. The nonprofit center helps find missing people and serves as an advocate for the missing person and their families.

For the past year, Caison and the Sheriff's Office have worked to place Eva's name at the forefront of search engines, headlines and the eye of the public.

"The first thing I did when I took this on was Googled Eva's name, and there was nothing. Nothing on Eva's case," Caison said. "Now, her name is all over Google."

They also have placed Eva's name in the National DNA Database and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This will allow Eva's DNA to be tested against evidence found in other cases or in the future.

In May, Caison and the family distributed 1,000 posters to bring attention to the case.

This is the oldest missing child case that Caison is working on. No one finds fault with law enforcement officers, she said.

"The investigator is gung-ho about this and has put a lot of effort into this," Caison said. "Bottom line is, that there are thousands of people who are still unidentified."

Looking forward

Sheriff's Office Capt. Jerry Hoffman has worked closely with Caison on the case. But there's still been no break in the case, he said.

"Any information that people can give would be greatly appreciated," Hoffman said. He said there is no specific approach to the case -- whether it is an abduction or murder -- because no clue has been found.

"She disappeared under very suspicious circumstances," he said. "We, along with the family, are very involved in getting an answer to this."

As for today, Settlemeyer, her sister Elaine and their mother will gather in Settlemeyer's home. Just as they have been doing for the past 30 years.

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