The gruesome murder of a young woman who was strangled to death still remains a mystery to LAPD detectives nearly 20 years later.
Fonda Dempsey was 32 years old on September 25, 2001, someone strangled her to death, detectives said. And while police believe the murder happened in South Los Angeles, it took nearly a week for them to discover her body – found in the trunk of her own car, parked in what is now Sherman Oaks.
It was just after the terror attacks of 9/11. The family said because of that, all the attention in the community was still on New York City, with very few details about Fonda's case ever reaching the local news.
"Well I've been thinking about this for the last 15 years, it never goes away," said Fonda's father, Arthur Dempsey. "It's the worst thing to ever happen to me."
Arthur Dempsey said Fonda was the youngest of his three daughters, raised almost entirely by him after their mother passed away from an illness while the girls were very young.
"My father would take us to the snow in the mountains," recalled her sister, Janet Alexander. "Just being together, loving one another, made us happy."
Fonda's other sister, Pamela Kammerzell, said she still questions the motives behind why her sister was killed.
"I just couldn't believe she was gone, I couldn't believe it," she said. "And who could have done this to her?"
LAPD South Bureau Homicide opened its "murder book" of evidence to NBC4 for the first time, in the hopes that someone now will remember this case and come forward with information.
"This is a murder, these murders don't go away and there's no statute of limitations for murder," Detective Ricardo Feria said. "To do what they did to her is just awful, horrific to put her in the vehicle of her own car to be discovered several days later."
Dempsey's body was found in her Honda Civic on Camarillo Street, east of Sepulveda and right beside the 101 freeway, an area surrounded by apartment complexes. Detectives have been working with surveillance video in the hopes of discovering any clues.
"It's really devastating to lose your sister, somebody you love so much," Alexander said. "She didn't do any drugs, she wasn't mixed up with any bad people. She was very loving, a very loving person."
The family says they have their theories – and so do detectives – but for now rely on hope that someone will help them find closure to Fonda's murder.
Top news of the day
"I loved her so much and that is something that no one can ever take away," Kammerzell said. "The individual or individuals that committed this heinous act, it's time for you to come forward."