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Cold case heating up
Detective expects resolution of woman's disappearance 20 years ago
Allyson Romedy
This poster about Allyson Romedy's disappearance has been on a Rincon Police Department bulletin board for 20 years. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
The person that I’m looking at needs to understand that you’ve had twenty years to make it right and you didn’t do it.
Detective Lee Chadwick

RINCON — Rincon Police Department Detective Lee Chadwick’s words were firm, resolute and devoid of doubt.

“.. I feel strongly, very strongly that we’ll get closure here shortly,” he said.

Chadwick was referring to the baffling case of Allyson Romedy, who disappeared without a trace Feb. 28, 2002. She was 43 at the time. 

“This case kind of grew cold very quick,” Rincon Police Chief Jonathan Murrell said. 

Even so, Murrell made it a priority to get answers shortly after he was named chief on an interim basis in September 2019. He appointed Chadwick to look into the case and some leads have developed recently.

Foul play is suspected.

“One of the first things I wanted to do was revisit this case,” said Murrell, elevated to chief on a permanent basis in 2020. “We reached out to the GBI and obtained the case file from them.”

Chadwick immersed himself in hundreds of pages of information. The Rincon Police Department reclaimed the case after ceding it to the GBI shortly after Romedy went missing.

The reason for turning the case over to the state agency is that it has greater manpower and resources.

“There have been a bunch hands in this case over the years,” Murrell said. “(Effingham County) Sheriff (Jimmy) McDuffie was one of the first investigators on this case. He has some strong interest in it and we intend to continue to include him throughout the investigation.

“I’m not trying to exclude anyone.”

Romedy was last seen at her apartment in the 400 block of Weisenbaker Road in Rincon. Her 10-year-old daughter, after leaving her bed to get a drink of water, saw her watching television shortly after 9 p.m.

 When Romedy’s daughter woke up the following morning, her mother was gone and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Initially, Romedy’s daughter thought her mother had left early for work. Romedy never reported for duty, however. 

Romedy’s cellphone, jacket, jewelry and medication were left at her residence. The only thing missing was her Dale Earnhardt cap and red 1997 Plymouth Breeze. 

The vehicle was found in the parking lot of Fair Oaks Apartments about a mile from Romedy’s home. Nothing was discovered in it that indicated Romedy's whereabouts.

Romedy’s mother and oldest son have died since her disappearance. A sister and her daughter still live in the area.

“I want to be able to give them not only closure but I want Allyson’s remains,” Chadwick said. “Let’s give that to the family, let them bury this person with honor and dignity that she deserves — not whereever she is at the moment.”

Several years ago, a woman provided a tip about the case, saying she knew the general location of where Romney is buried. Three different cadaver dogs on three separate occasions detected the scent of a body but one wasn’t found after three days of digging.

Murrell said Romedy’s sister has lost faith that the case will be solved.

“She’s chalked it up as a loss,” he said, “so we want to get her closure.”

Romedy’s disappearance is a Crimestoppers case. A $7,500 reward for anonymous information that leads to an arrest or solving it is available.

“The person that I’m looking at needs to understand that you’ve had twenty years to make it right and you didn’t do it,” Chadwick said. “There may be a reasonable explanation that you have and I’d like to hear it but my main focus is justice for that family. They deserve it.

“They have done nothing that warrants that they have to suffer with for 20 years of not knowing.”

Crimestoppers can be reached at (912) 234-2020. The Rincon Police Department number is (912) 826-5200.