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Indictment in Ohio teen's murder comes 26 years after her death

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Indictment in Ohio teen's murder comes 26 years after her death

Indictment in Ohio teen's murder comes 26 years after her death
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After 26 years of hoping, the family of Patsy Sparks -- an 18-year-old from Marietta, Ohio, who disappeared in 1992 - may finally have answers.

Patsy Sparks Peace and Justice for Patsy Sparks Facebook page

On January 19, Randy Joe Slider, 48, was indicted for Patsy's murder.

"It's a whirlwind of emotions," Dawn Brookover, Patsy's aunt told Dateline. "This was the last thing we could do for her. We needed to give her justice."

According to a witness at the time, on April 22, 1992, Patsy was seen leaving a bar with Slider in Parkersburg, West Virginia, 15 miles from her home.

Related: The unsolved Ohio murder of Patsy Sparks gets fresh look

The family's worst fears came true when, more than two years later, on December 19, 1994 hunters found Patsy's body in a wooded area in Ohio. The autopsy report concluded her death was a homicide.

"The world we live in may seem wicked at times," Patsy's cousin Jessica Whipkey, told Dateline in 2015 as her cousin's case neared the quarter century mark unsolved. "But I believe in my heart something like this can't happen without a resolution."

Now, that resolution may finally be close at hand.

In 2016, the investigation into Patsy's death was reopened by the Washington County Sheriff's Office cold case squad. One of the detectives on the case, Jeff Seevers, told Dateline a witness came forward with new information, which led to the indictment.

"We've still got a lot to do with our investigation," Detective Seevers said. "It's not over yet."

Patsy's family described her as a dancer, big smiler, and lover of life, who treated strangers as new friends. Patsy's aunt Dawn told Dateline her niece's soul fills a special place in the hearts of everyone she once knew. Dawn hopes that Patsy's case will give hope to other families waiting for justice, that they may also find peace one day.

"Don't give up. Have faith, and keep believing," she said.

Randy Slider is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for charges unrelated to Patsy's murder. His arraignment for Patsy Sparks' death is scheduled for February 14, 2018 at the Noble County Common Pleas Court.