WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — As CBS 42 takes a look at missing person cases in central Alabama, the sister of Carrie Lawson says she still has questions after Lawson was kidnapped almost 28 years ago.
She was kidnapped from her Jasper home in 1991. The case gained nationwide attention as law enforcement, family, and neighbors searched for the then 25-year-old.
Lawson had recently graduated from law school and accepted a job in Jasper. Investigators said she and her husband were approached by their car at gunpoint and that Lawson was forced to tie her husband’s hands before she was taken.
Almost 30 years after the crime, Lawson’s body still has not been found and her sister isn’t sure she will ever know the truth.
“We were always a family of 4 missing 1 person,“ said Margaret Kubiszyn, Lawson’s sister.
Kubiszyn described Lawson as one of the kindest people you would ever meet.
“If you talk to 10 people that knew Carrie, you would hear the exact same thing,“ said Kubiszyn.
After almost 30 years of uncertainty, Kubiszyn isn’t sure she’ll ever learn the truth about what happened .
“There is always hope that someone will come and say I know what happened because I was there, but we have had people do that before and be just flat out lying about it,“ said Kubiszyn.
For months after Lawson was taken, people from all over helped join search parties. The FBI tried to capture the kidnapper, who had demanded ransom money.
Efforts to retrieve Lawson in law enforcement operations were not successful.
“Three different people had confessed to murdering her and took them out to look at some burial site and they get a backhoe and it turns out the guy was just lying to get a field trip out of prison,“ said Kubiszyn.
A 49-year-old man named Jerry Bland was developed as a suspect, but officers said he shot and killed himself as they closed in during the investigation.
Bland’s cousin, Karen Lancaster McPherson was sentenced to life in prison for kidnappings.
Even after the investigation, Kubiszyn has more questions than answers.
“We never believed that Jerry Bland was the only one involved. We are not 100 percent sure he killed himself, there are just so many questions that remain,“ said Kubiszyn.
Kubiszyn’s father hired private detectives to try to locate Lawson. He also spoke to McPherson after her sentencing in hopes of finding his daughter’s body.
“She sat there for 4 or 5 hours talking to my dad about things that he thought might be true about other people that might be involved and things and he sent the tapes to the FBI and they immediately said she is lying.“ said Kubiszyn.
Days later Kubiszyn said McPherson admitted the stories she shared with Lawson’s father were not true.
Through the course of the investigation, officers searched wooded areas, near mines, and other locations in multiple counties to no avail.
Even though time has passed, law enforcement officer have not given up.
CBS 42 spoke to Attorney General Steve Marshall, who said his office assists in cold cases across the state.
“I knew Carrie Lawson. She was in law school behind me. Her husband he was in my same class, and from the moment this happened this is something I was very much very aware of and followed so it continues to be obviously a very important case for me,“ Marshall continued. “There’s nothing more that I can do for that family as Attorney General to not only give them some hope but some understanding potentially about whether or not there are other people involved.“
Marshall pointed to other cold case investigations that have led to an arrest. Recently a suspect was charged in connection with a 1999 double homicide of two teenagers in Ozark.
Coley McCraney, 45, is now charged in deaths of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett after investigators said identified him through DNA.
The arrest came after about 20 years. Marshall hopes investigators can continue to look back at old cases like the Lawson investigation.
“It’s clearly an open case and this in fact has been with our office since around 2001 so multiple administrations the case has been in the office and again not being the lead agency but also supplementing the work that others are able to do,“ said Marshall.
CBS 42 reached out to the Jasper Police Department for an update, but never received a response.
Many law enforcement tips come through social media in 2019. Kubiszyn wonders how Facebook and other platforms might have played a role in helping spread awareness about the case.
She said there is also a negative side to social media for families of victims, especially when rumors are posted.
“That is probably the most hurtful thing that somebody can do is say, I know where she is buried and I am not going to tell you how I know that and usually if you can dig down it is based on some rumor or something that you have heard a million times,“ said Kubiszyn.
While Kubiszyn still wants to learn what happened to her sister, she’s found comfort in her faith, family, and friends.
“You can’t let it be your whole life, you can’t ignore what’s going on in your life, you cannot ignore the rest of your family,“ said Kubiszyn.
McPherson remains in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections. According to the ADOC website, she has a parole consideration date of August 2021 after previously being denied parole.