Family of Patty Vaughan still searching for answers 20 years after her disappearance
SAN ANTONIO —
It's a road they've traveled many times over the last two decades. The road Patty Vaughan's family knows she traveled alive -- for the last time -- Christmas day, 20 years ago.
"My memories of that Christmas Eve are pretty much the same," Jean Kiolbassa said. "We had a great time with the kids together just like you said and we always tried to make it about the kids and having fun and enjoying their Christmas Eve."
Vaughan's family and authorities said the evidence all points to her being killed in her own home on Christmas day.
"All of the blood found in the house was ID'ed through DNA as Patty's blood," Kiolbassa said.
It's what the family doesn't know that fuels their push for information.
"They have the evidence she was killed there, was placed in her van there and without a doubt we know patty was killed there," Cathy Greiner said. "We just don't know what happened afterward."
Twenty years later, no one has come forward to give the family peace, despite her family believing they know who killed Patty.
"I just never thought that they would be able to outsmart all the efforts," Greiner said.
For 20 years, a key suspect in the case was Patty's ex-husband, JR Vaughan. But her family feels it's no longer about pinning blame.
"I don't care," Kiolbassa "I don't care. It's not about that anymore. I wouldn't care if he didn't spend a night in jail."
Greiner said that instead, their efforts are focused on bringing Patty home.
Vaughan's family would also like to see her children come home one more time. They've been estranged from their mother's family since their mother's murder in 1996.
"If anything, I think her children should come forward and maybe help put some pieces of the puzzle together and I'm a little frustrated that they haven't," Greiner said.
That frustration is growing deep as Patty's mother, Patsy, is also dying of cancer.
"She is just barely hanging on and I truly believe that the only thing that keeps that woman alive is the hope that we will find Patty's body and bring her home and give her a decent burial," Kiolbassa.
This year, an old lead gave the family new hope: a report of something strange growing in a riverbed. The tip came in near the same location an eyewitness told authorities they saw Patty's car and a man running away. But the clue provided little progress in the case.
Vaughan's family, however, has a strong feeling she's buried in a place they'll never be able to access -- underneath a school in Pleasanton
"(JR) was in charge when the concrete was poured," Greiner said.
Kiolbassa said that Patty's estranged husband knew once the school was built, they would never tear it up.
In 2001, the area where they believe Patty was buried was partially searched.
"We did aeration, ground penetrating radar; they found anomalies and weren't allow to pursue it any further," Kiolbassa said.
Patty's aunt said her dreams are vivid and she knows the little girl she raised is now buried at the school.
"Patty is under that school and it's almost like I could reach down and pull her out," Greiner said.
The District Attorney elect for Wilson County will be taking over the case, to perhaps find closure for the family.
"Our family will never give up," Kiolbassa said.
Vaughan's family is asking for anyone with information to call the authorities or contact their family directly.