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Who Killed Darlene Tilley? New Details On The Unsolved Murder Of The North Carolina Teenager

Photo: WRAL-TV
Who Killed Darlene Tilley? New Details On The Unsolved Murder Of The North Carolina Teenager

She was killed in the 1980s, and her murder remains unsolved to this day. Yet, North Carolina police have reopened her cold case in the hopes of finally solving this heinous crime. Who killed Darlene Tilley?

In September 1980, 13-year-old Darlene Tilley was walking to her friend’s house in Durham, NC, when she disappeared. She was never seen alive again.

Two months later, hunters discovered Tilley’s body in an open field.

Darlene Tilley’s unsolved murder is currently the oldest unsolved murder in North Carolina history.

Now, nearly 40 years after her heinous murder, Durham-area authorities have announced that they’re reopening the case in the hopes that they will finally be able to solve this unsolved murder.

Let’s look at what we know about who killed Darlene Tilley.

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1. She died of blunt force trauma and stabbing.

According to Spectrum News, when Darlene Tilley’s body was discovered, an autopsy was conducted. The coroner discovered that Tilley died of blunt force trauma (that is, extensive blows to the body) and multiple stab wounds.

"Darlene decided that she would walk home. Her best friend said, 'I'll walk home with you.' Darlene said, 'no I'm okay I'll walk alone,” Capt. Jimmy Butler with the Durham County Sheriff's Office said to the outlet.

Darlene Tilley's murder remains unsolved. 

2. Her best friend has petitioned the police to continue working on Darlene Tilley’s case.

Tammy Carden — who was the last person to see Darlene Tilley alive — told WRAL-TV that she wanted the police to continue looking for the person who killed her best friend.

"I feel like there's someone out there that has a message that could... maybe solve this," Carden said to the outlet. "I'm a firm believer that whoever did it should actually pay for what they have done."

In another story for WRAL-TV, police believe that the murderer had an “altercation” with Darlene Tilley at her church-based summer camp. To that end, the police have petitioned the community to “stop protecting the murderer,” and that being someone affiliated with a church does not excuse them of a crime.

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3. The police insist that they’ve never stopped working on the case, and thanks to the increased publicity, they’ve been inundated with tips.

In the same story for WRAL-TV, Capt. Jimmy Butler said that he and his investigators have never stopped working on the case. What’s more, he said, thanks to the fact that they’ve recently reopened the case, the Durham County Police Department has been inundated with tips.

"We're actually walking through the entire case from day one," he said to the outlet. "We're re-interviewing everyone, just like it's day one."

The Durham police have reopened the Darlene Tilley unsolved murder.

4. Police are inviting the public to contact them if they have any tips.

As with all unsolved murders, the Durham police department is asking for anyone who has information about the unsolved murder of Darlene Tilley to contact them at 1-866-439-2683.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.