13 years later, young Dayton mom’s death remains Miami Valley Murder Mystery

13 years after young Dayton mother Heather Walker was stuffed in an East Dayton trash can, after missing for two and a half months, her cold case remains a Miami Valley Murder Mystery.

“It’s been hell,” her mother Tammy Walker recently told the I-Team’s Cheryl McHenry. “I have no answers to nothing.”

Dayton Police Cold Case Unit Detective Patricia Tackett is working to find answers for the Walker family.

“For any mother to have known that her child was put in a trash can and thrown away like trash, I mean that’s devastating,” Det. Tackett said.

>> VIDEO: New theories in a 25-year cold case Miami Valley Murder Mystery

Heather Walker was born on Thanksgiving Day, 1989 and lived her whole life on Dayton’s east side. Tammy Walker describes her daughter as a fun and likeable girl who had a lot of friends. Heather loved her big brother and her dog and wanted to be a hair stylist.

“People would pay her to do their hair to go out and she would make her own money on the side doing some hair,” Tammy said laughing.

Barely 18, and not yet finished with high school, Heather lived with her parents, her brother, and her two year old son.

“She loved that baby,” Tammy said. “They played hide and seek all the time.”

In late January 2008, Heather underwent a cervical cancer procedure and was prescribed the pain medication Vicodin.

By Feb. 9, she felt stronger and walked to her brother’s birthday party at a friend’s house. Her mother said Heather took a vial containing five Vicodin pills with her in case she needed them.

Witnesses, including Heather’s brother, told police she left the party sometime after 11 and was seen with a friend at Sam’s Market on East Third Street later that night. The next morning that friend called Tammy Walker and asked, “Did Heather make it home all right?” The answer was no.

Tammy and her husband reported Heather missing later that day. Though their daughter had left home before--to visit her son’s father--this time was different.

“No phone call,” said Tammy, “Nobody seen her.”

Tammy gathered friends to put up flyers with Heather’s picture all over east Dayton. Waiting for word about her daughter was “unbearable.”

“I had to watch that baby go to her bedroom door and pound on it, yelling for his mommy,” said Tammy, wiping her tears. “All I knew what to do was just pick him up and hold him and tell him I wanted her home too.”

The waiting ended eleven weeks later on April 26.

Wilburn Gibson was walking to work on East Third St. that Sat. morning when a screaming woman ran out of the alley at Third and Jersey.

Gibson said he and another man walked over to a city-owned green plastic trash can.

“He raised the lid and there she was head first in the trash can with her feet in the air,” Gibson recalled. “Never will forget it.”

Heather’s family and friends turned the alley into a makeshift memorial that same day. There was some initial speculation Heather died of a drug overdose.

However, Det. Tackett said an autopsy on the badly-decomposed body proved otherwise.

“It is actually determined a homicide,” Tackett said. “So it wasn’t a drug overdose. It is actually a homicide but of unknown means.”

Tammy Walker insisted on viewing her daughter’s remains. Based on what she saw, she believes someone kept Heather’s body somewhere else until just days before she was found.

“Whoever had her hid for those two and a half months was pouring reddish-brown paint all over my daughter,” Tammy said.

Tammy was given a plastic bag with the items found on her daughter--an eyeliner and rings. Her ID and pill bottle were missing.

Detectives questioned dozens of people, including the friend Heather was with the last night she was seen.

They also called Wilburn Gibson in for an interview after he discussed the case with someone.

“And they had called downtown and told detectives that I done it, that I was in on it, that I done it and I knowed about it,” Tammy said. “So, the detectives contacted me and asked me to come down and I told ‘em the same thing I’m telling now.”

Tammy Walker says “a cold-hearted monster” killed her daughter.

“And there was more than one person that had to get her in that can,” Tammy said.

Det. Tackett agrees with that and believes there are people still around who know what happened to Heather Walker.

“There is probably more than one person that knows and I believe there are people that have been talking about it and that do have information about this.”

What the Walkers need now is for someone to come forward and give them some peace.

“Justice will give Heather peace,” said Tammy, “and that’s what I would like for her to have. Nobody’s child deserves to be put in a trash can.”

If you have information that could help solve Heather Walker’s murder call Dayton Police at 937-333-7109.

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