ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – Retired detective Richard Boone has never forgotten the 1995 murder of Nacole Smith.
“The call came up as a person down in the woods, I thought that was a little strange,” he said.
The 14-year-old was shot twice in the face and found in a wooded area off Campbellton Road – less than a mile from her home.
“I touched her on her neck to see if there were any signs of life and there wasn't any,” he said.
She’d been raped and beaten.
“She never got a chance to go to college. Took everything away from her and her family as well,” Boone said.
For 24 years, Atlanta investigators built a case file of thousands of pages, offered thousands in rewards in hopes of finding her killer.
But even DNA samples haven't been able to identify the man responsible.
Now with the help of CBS46 crime scene investigator Sheryl 'Mac' McCollum, CBS46 has unveiled a fresh look at the killer to heat up this case.
CBS46 and McCollum went back to the crime scene to see how this vicious attack could happen in daylight, in a heavily trafficked neighborhood.
“If I was to do something to you right now, you could see the cars, you can see the people which means they can see you if they look,” she said.
McCollum described the suspect as a rapist of opportunity – someone who was familiar with the neighborhood.
“We know that he has a type which is young, under 15 years old, African-American females that are alone, that are in a neighborhood near their home and previously had been with other people,” she said.
McCollum said the suspect wasn’t concerned about who saw him – he was brazen in his attack.
“He didn't use a vehicle. But he came prepared to murder. He had a weapon on him, and that weapon was loaded, and he chose to use it when I believe Nacole fought with him,” McCollum said.
That morning in June, Nacole and her older sister had begged their mom to let them walk to school instead of driving them.
The sisters cut through a wooded trail – behind their apartment complex – routinely used by school kids.
Nacole – a straight A student – turned back to get a project she’d left at home, but she never made it.
“All I know is 9:20 a.m. I heard the gunshots. I never thought it was my child it happened to,” said Nacole’s mom, Acqunellia Smith.
Smith has spent decades scanning crowds, handing out fliers and pleading to anyone to find her daughter’s killer.
“There will never be closure,” she said.
It’s been 15 years since the public has seen a sketch of what the suspect looks like.
In 2004, a 13-year-old East Point girl was pulled into the woods and raped but survived.
DNA from the attacker later linked the two cases.
The original black-and-white sketch was based on the victim's description.
CBS46 teamed up with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s forensic artist Kelly Lawson, who sketched an age-progression from the original depiction of a black man in his early 30s, wearing round framed glasses and a gap in his front teeth.
“Age progression is probably the most challenging thing that I do in my job,” Lawson said.
It’s the first time an enhanced drawing has been done since the second attack and the first time it's being shown to the public – exclusively here on CBS46.
“It's going to get some attention, that's for real,” Lawson said.
The new sketch shows a bald black man in his late 40s or 50s.
“There's a lot of things about this particular individual that we just don't know,” she said.
If you’ve seen the suspect, or believe you have information that can help solve Nacole’s case, please contact Atlanta Police Crime Stoppers at (404) 577-8477.