Nearly three years ago a Jacksonville woman's body was found on Piney Green Road, but officials still have questions.
It was a rainy June day in 2015 when the body of a Jacksonville woman was discovered on Piney Green Road.
Maxine Walters, 41, of Jacksonville, was later identified by a friend and first responders assessed the scene as a hit and run. At the time, expansion of Piney Green was taking place and the section of road where Walters was found was actually closed off for construction, according to previous Daily News reports.
N.C. Highway Patrol has been working at the case for three years, and it remains open with no clear suspects and very little evidence.
Trooper M. Jones, who is investigating the case, said there were no debris at the scene of Walters’ death -- there wasn’t much of anything.
“Usually when someone is hit there’s debris leftover,” Jones said. “There was nothing, no debris -- just the heavy rain downpour.”
In fact, Jones said it’s hard to determine if the hit even came from a vehicle.
“We can’t even prove the victim was hit by a vehicle,” Jones said. “She was hit by something large.”
Jones said investigators initially suspected Walters’ body had been dropped off near the construction site on the side of the road, but it was determined she died of blunt force trauma and the hit-and-run theory was introduced.
While the office received a few calls following the incident on possible leads, Jones said they didn’t hold up. One woman, for example, was reported to allegedly have blood splattered on her car, but troopers confirmed it was an unreported hit to a deer and damage from a mail box that were responsible.
Jones said the chances of Walters’ case being solved relies on inside information that may never come through.
Dawn Browning, Walters’ longtime friend of Jacksonville, said she and her family mourn Walters’ death every day.
"It's just not fair because we miss her so bad," Browning said.
She affectionately called Walters "Maxter" and said she got a tattoo in her memory. She described Walters as kind-hearted, compassionate and a lover of food, and she remembers her friend ate a salad the night she passed - one of her favorite meals.
“Maxter was our heart and loved beyond any words that can express the hurt that we have endured,” Browning said.
Browning said that her entire family was fond of Walters, even the babies, and she keeps Walters’ remains close by for major milestones, including the birth of her granddaughter. Browning has also been able to bring Walters’ urn along on cruises in memory of her love for sea turtles and the ocean.
The thing that haunts Browning about the death of her friend, she said, is the lack of an explanation for what happened. The night of her friend's death, Browning said she was running an errand for work but neighbors did not witness anything suspicious.
"Even the boys living (nearby) didn't hear anything - no screeches, nothing," Browning said.
According to Walters' death certificate, she died of blunt force trauma to the head, but the manner of death "cannot be determined."
Browning said she believes someone is responsible for Walter’s death, and wants to see justice, but the evidence is missing.
Jones said the case has been difficult and remains open for that very reason. A lack of evidence has made it hard to determine what caused Walter’s death and would make it difficult later on to prosecute anyone.
If you have information on the death of Maxine Walters, call Highway Patrol at 910-347-1751 or Crime Stoppers.
Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards up to $2,500 for information deemed of value or of assistance to law enforcement. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identity when calling 910-938-3273. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text-A- Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637.
Reporter Kelsey Stiglitz can be reached at 910-219-8453 or kstiglitz@JDNews.com.