The murder 16-year-old Steven Dowland of Raleigh in October 1994 continues to stump police as they try catch his killer.
The teen had a pattern that everyone knew, including his family - and maybe even his killer. He went to the old McClemore Market on Raleigh-Millington and Egypt Central to call his girlfriend from a payphone.
Chris Dowland would never see his brother alive again.
"It is a feeling you can't describe," Chris said. "It is a loss like no other."
Shelby County detectives have uncovered a new angle and with help from the public, they might be able to close this case.
Weeks later his body was found in the woods near the store by some hunters.
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"The medical examiner report lists the cause of death as a stab wound near his spine (around his neck), and he had a belt around his neck," said Shelby County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Essary.
It was a brutal killing for someone only 16.
Sgt. Essary has examined the nearly two decade old case and suspects the teenager may have been involved in dealing drugs.
"From what everybody has said, he was a street wise guy," Sgt. Essary said. "He knew how to play the streets. There were some indications that Steven owed some money."
A debt to a drug dealer who is now dead himself. The detective suspects Dowland may have been one of the dealer's victims.
After posting a flyer asking the public for help, the new theory is hard for the family to accept.
"I guess it is possible but I never saw any evidence of it," Chris said. "If that comes out to be true, it is going to be shocking to me."
"A body just doesn't get handled the way this body was handled and disposed of in the woods and somebody not know," Sgt. Essary added.
Sgt. Essary said one new clue, one new call to Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH, could start the domino effect to point to a suspect and to a possible arrest.
"I think there is someone around who is still alive and still around who knows what took place," Sgt. Essary said.
"There's a human being, he was a good person," said Chris Dowland. "He was my brother. He didn't deserve it."
Shelby County investigators said Investigators tell FOX13 News they are examining the teen murder victim's clothes that were found in the woods to see if technology today can find some clues.
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