This cold case the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office would like to solve for a number of reasons.
The most important is closure for the family, and to remind certain people that there is a new sheriff in town.
Jerry Lee Armstrong had a date to the Christmas dance but stepped into a mystery.
"Went to dance, dropped his girlfriend off, and hasn't been seen since," said Det. Jerry Owensby.
It was Dec. 23, 1977. Armstrong drove a white Chrysler LeBaron. The 17-year-old high school quarterback had Christmas presents in the trunk and promised his family a gift for everyone.
He never came home.
"It would be nice if he would show up one day, call us and say here I am," Det. Owensby said.
"I am pretty sure he is dead," said Johnny Armstrong, brother.
Johnny Armstrong suspects his brother was murdered in a case of mistaken identity by a killer who wanted to send a message. Jerry's brother believes the intended target was a friend, who was in an inter-racial relationship at the time.
"Because back then you were not allowed to court white girls," Johnny said. "This is racial. This is going to be a hate crime."
DeSoto County detectives admit the case had been handled poorly and languished for decades until the new sheriff reopened it and put resources into finding an answer.
"We want to find out if something really did happen to him, who was involved, and what we can do to bring those people to justice," Det. Owensby said.
Investigators say whatever happened then can only be corrected by witnesses talking now, some 36 years later.
"Go ahead and clear your conscience," Johnny said. "Do the right thing, don't take it to the grave. Do the right thing and help us do the right and give us some closure."
The sheriff's office has even taken DNA from Armstrong's family in the event a body is found and DNA might help identify the body as Jerry's.
Anyone with information on where any of these individuals can be located is urged to call 662-429-TIPS or Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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