'Her blood is on their hands' | Family of missing Kentucky mother believes someone knows the truth
Natasha Fugate-Jones disappeared in 2015. Despite years of investigation and hundreds of tips, what happened to her remains a mystery.
As the world marks another new year, the family of Natasha Fugate-Jones feels no closer to finding answers.
Natasha, a 32-year-old mother, disappeared in 2015 from Hazard, Kentucky. Her family hasn't heard from her since.
Despite years of investigation by Kentucky State Police - and hundreds of tips - what happened to Natasha remains a mystery.
Her family believes that someone knows exactly what happened to her, but won't come forward, to tell the truth.
Chapter 1: Who is Natasha Fugate-Jones?
Shirley Fugate is Natasha's mother. She hasn't seen her daughter in more than six years.
"She was the light of my world," Shirley said.
On May 6, 2015, Natasha left her grandmother's house to go to a party. She told her two young sons that she would be back soon.
She never came home.
"Natasha was a great person," said Ola Chaffins, Natasha's grandmother. "She could be funny, she could be witty - she could be hateful, too. I loved her like my own."
Chaffins said it wasn't unusual for Natasha to be "in and out." She had a drug problem and often spent a night or two away from home. But this time was different.
"I just figured she was going to stay somewhere for the night," Chaffins said. "She didn't come back. It went on for two weeks. I was really worried, but I didn't let the boys know it."
Nearly a month after she disappeared, Chaffins filed a missing persons report for Natasha.
Chapter 2: Investigation grows cold
Josh Huff, a detective with Kentucky State Police became the lead on the investigation in 2017, more than a year after Natasha was last seen. Before he was a detective, he worked as a road trooper and assisted on the case, so he was familiar with it when he took over.
"During the initial part of the investigation, there [were] calls coming in constantly - it was non-stop," he said.
KSP received hundreds of tips and conducted several searches with cadaver dogs, planes and heavy machinery. They followed the trail to an abandoned strip mine, but there was no sign of Natasha.
The calls slowed - until they stopped altogether.
Years later, Huff can't help but wonder if the report had been filed sooner, they wouldn't be in this situation.
"I feel like time was the main factor in this investigation," he said.
Despite the obstacles he's faced while working on this case, Huff said he's not finished looking for Natasha. He looks at the case like a puzzle - one he's determined to complete.
“We still need Natasha… that’s the big piece,” he said.
Chapter 3: What happened to Natasha?
Even after all this time, Natasha's family believes that there's someone out there who knows what happened to her.
"Her blood is on their hands," Shirley said.
Her mother has heard gruesome rumors and stories about how her daughter was murdered, but there's been no evidence to prove it.
"You live with that, you sleep with that every night," she said.
But no one is giving up on Natasha. Not her family, not police. They're just waiting on the final pieces to fall into place - the ones that will finally bring them peace.
"There's one thing that this case actually taught me," Huff said. "To try someone for murder or someone else's death - you don't have to have a body."
Any information connected to Natasha's disappearance should be reported to Kentucky State Police at 606-435-6069.
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