NJ prosecutors renew plea for info in 2001 killing of woman found lying along road

'I strongly believe I'll get justice for my mom,' daughter says

New Jersey prosecutors are once again requesting leads in the slaying of 32-year-old Michelle Lynn Howard 19 years ago.

Howard, who grew up in Atlantic City, was found dead on the side of Estelle Avenue about a quarter of a mile from Interstate 40 on Nov. 26, 2001.

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According to a statement released Friday by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Hamilton Township police officers found Howard unclothed except for a white bra. 

An autopsy would later determine her cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso.

“Even though Ms. Howard lost her life 19 years ago, I am hopeful that there is someone out there who saw something or knows something that can assist us with solving this homicide," wrote Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner. "Time is always the great equalizer, and circumstances sometimes change that lead people to come forward now, that prevented them from doing so at the time of the incident."

“It is my hope that we will be able to find the person(s) responsible for the death of Michelle Howard and give her family the closure they deserve,” he said.

In a Friday interview with NBC's "Dateline," Howard's daughter Dawn remembered her mother. 

The last time she saw her was two days after Thanksgiving.

Dawn, who was 19 then, said her mother did not have a car at the time and authorities told The Press of Atlantic City in 2001 that they believed Michelle's body had been dumped.

After years without a scrap of information from authorities, Dawn took matters into her own hands and later presented her findings to Atlantic County prosecutors.

“For years, I was numb. And I never dealt with her murder,” she told "Dateline." “But now, it feels like it happened yesterday.”

“I don’t know what happened to her that night, but someone out there does,” she said. “But I strongly believe I’ll get justice for my mom.”

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Anyone with information on Howard's killing is encouraged to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at (609) 909-7800 or visit https://www.acpo.org/forms/tips-crime-reporting/.

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