JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Neptune Beach mother of four, murdered 26 years ago, is still not buried. Action News found that's partly because for almost all of that time, Linda Anderson was simply "Jane Doe" to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office.
For most of their lives, Anderson's four children thought their mother abandoned them. What they didn't know is in 1986, she was fatally stabbed and dumped along I-10. Now, that investigators know who she is, they hope someone in our community might know who killed her and why.
Anderson's body wasn't found until 1987. The tip came into the Nassau County Sheriff's Office that a skull was found, then a body, along a stretch of I-10. Investigators found a badly decomposed body and few clues. What they did not know that night, it would take another 23 years to identify this murder victim as missing mother Linda Anderson.
"That's 23 years where this investigation just stalled," said homicide investigator Michelle Christensen, the new detective working the cold case. "At this point, anybody could be a suspect."
That's because Anderson, a newly divorced single mother of four, was working as a taxi cab driver when she vanished in 1986.
She lived in Neptune Beach, but her job took her all over the area and put her in contact with an untold number of strangers, meaning her killer could be anyone, anywhere.
What's more, the person who said he stumbled upon Linda's skull was convicted murderer Ivy Lee Thomas. Detective Christensen says Thomas had just gotten out of prison for killing his wife.
When pressed by investigators, Thomas admitted he didn't just find the skull he brought in, he found the whole body.
The next day, he lead detectives to the body and explained he lied because of his criminal history.
Thomas was afraid it would make him a suspect. To Christensen, he still is. Thomas said he was turkey hunting with a knife, at night, when he found Anderson's remains. The medical examiner determined Anderson was stabbed to death.
There are questions to be asked that only Thomas can answer -- the problem is, he's dead. Action News found his obituary from 2011. Investigators say Thomas' death was ruled a hunting accident.
Also, in 2011, investigators finally identified Anderson's remains.
That same year Christensen knocked on the doors of Anderson's children to tell them something they didn't expect. "To meet her two oldest children, Tony and Joey, it was very upsetting. To them, it was an event that had just happened, as if that was the day she was found. They had assumed that she had just left, left the family."
But she didn't leave; Linda Anderson's life was taken. Today, 26 years later, she's a mother that is still not back with her children. Action News found her remains sit in a Florida lab waiting for more testing. These are DNA tests that didn't exist when she was killed, but tests that today could catch her killer.
Detectives also want to talk with anyone who knew Anderson at all, including those who worked with her in 1986 at the Beach Yellow Cab Company. They are now in the process of pulling those employment records to answer who did Anderson know, or meet, who wanted her dead.
The Nassau County Sheriff's Office also believes there could be other persons of interest. If you know anything at all about Linda Anderson's life or death, investigators want you to call them at (904) 548-4007.