Unsolved: Jennifer Marteliz still missing after 34 years

A Tampa youth who went missing in 1982 still hasn't been found.

On Nov. 15, 1982, seven-year-old Jennifer Marteliz vanished on her way home from school.  All these years later, her family is still no  closer to finding out where she is and what happened to Jennifer.

"She just had all this energy and she was just so beautiful," says Jennifer's mother Kathy Longo. "And I'm not just saying that because she's my daughter.  She had this long black hair and a beautiful smile."

That beautiful smile was captured in Jennifer's school photo - taken the same day she disappeared.

She and a friend left Shaw Elementary that afternoon, walking the dozen or so blocks to their homes in Tampa's Sulphur Springs neighborhood.  They parted ways near 15th Street and 98th Avenue. Jennifer's friend watched her head toward her father's house. That's the last anyone saw of her.

"I didn't believe it," says Longo. "I said, 'What  do you mean she's missing? She's not there?' I mean, she had to be there."

Police began a massive search--scouring the neighborhood on on the ground and in the air.  They turned up no sign of Jennifer.

Over the past 34 years, there have been plenty of leads--but no strong suspects in her disappearance. In 2012 a tip led Tampa Police to Pennsylvania to search for possible remains. Nothing was found.  That was exactly what Kathy Longo expected.

"I don't want people thinking she's dead. I know she's not dead. I'm her mother. I know in my heart she's still alive."

An age-progressed photo from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children  shows what 41-year-old Jennifer Marteliz would look like  now.

Her mother has a message for her long-lost daughter:

"I love you, I love you with all my heart," says Kathy Longo, fighting back tears. "I've spent 34 years of my life just looking for you. And I will continue until they day I die. Please come home."

If you have any information about Jennifer Marteliz's disappearance, please contact the Tampa Police missing person's unit at (813) 276-3538. You can also leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay.

(© 2016 WTSP)


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