Mother says she's still looking for her daughter's killer

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Eyewitness News has been following Danny Hembree's case for years. He is on death row for murdering Heather Catterton and took a plea deal for the murder of Randi Saldona.

Just this week, the Gaston County District Attorney dropped charges against Hembree in Deborah Ratchford's murder.

Now Ratchford's mother told Eyewitness News she is desperate to find out who killed her daughter.

Lessie Muskelly says one night, in 1992, she sensed something was wrong.

"I had a dream that night that a black cat was crawling up on me and I was trying my best to fight him off of me. I think that was a sign," said Lessie Muskelly, the mother of murder victim Deborah Ratchford.

A sign that someone she loved was struggling. Not long after she received a call that her only child, 30-year-old Deborah Ratchford, was dead.

Police say they found her in the woods in the Oakland Street Cemetery cut in the upper chest and neck. It is a tragedy that still haunts Muskelly.

"Especially when it's Christmas or Thanksgiving, my child is gone and my sister's kids are with me and mine is not. That's a horrible feeling," she said.

Now that pain has resurfaced.

In 2009, convicted killer Danny Hembree was charged after police said he confessed to Ratchford's murder.

On Tuesday, the District Attorney told Eyewitness News he was dropping the charges because there was no evidence linking Hembree to the crime.

"I want to know who killed her. If Danny Hembree didn't kill her, who killed her," said Muskelly.

The Gaston County Police Department tells Eyewitness News that it is still looking for new leads. Police say one possible suspect who was under investigation has died but that doesn't mean this case is closed.

Muskelly is begging anyone who knows anything about her daughter's murder to come forward.

"I don't want to leave this world not knowing who killed my child," she said.

The Police Department says it has a list of unsolved murders that it reviews on a regular basis.