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Friend hopes to bring closure to 39-year-old Durham cold case

May 17, 2019 GMT

Darlene Tilley was 13 years old when Durham deputies say she was killed 39 years ago.

For years, her friends and family have hoped authorities would catch her killer.

“She was more like a sister that I never said,” said Darlene’s best friend, Tammy Carden.

Carden said she thinks about her friend’s murder every day. She was the last person to see Tilley alive.

“She was a very quiet, loving, passionate person,” she said.

She said the two of them had spent the afternoon, in September 1980, playing softball and hanging out.

Carden said Tilley left to walk home alone.


Her body was found two months later in North Durham, off of Old Oxford Highway.

“I feel like there’s someone out there that has a message that could... maybe solve this,” Carden said.

That’s what inspired Carden to go to the sheriff’s office last week.

Captain Jimmy Butler, with the Durham’s Sheriff’s Office, says now four to five investigators are actively working this case.

“We’re actually walking through the entire case from day one,” he said. “We’re re-interviewing everyone, just like it’s day one.”

Carden says she wants closure for Tilley’s family. She also wants to know that the killer cannot hurt anyone else.

“I’m a firm believer that whoever did it should actually pay for what they have done,” Carden said.

Investigators say thanks to the increased publicity on this case, they have been receiving multiple tips.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Durham County Sheriff’s Department.