FBI offering $10k for information to close 20-year-old Salisbury cold case
SALISBURY, Md. – If you’ve driven along Route 13 southbound, you’ve probably seen the face of Patricia Dudek looking over the highway. Almost 20 years after Dudek went missing, her family is pleading for answers. “Anybody who knows anything – anything at all – little, big, doesn’t matter. Please step forward,” said Dudek’s daughter Jennifer Contreras. “She was so loved and she is so missed.”
The FBI and Salisbury Police Department made that call for help even louder Tuesday afternoon. The agencies announced a $10,000 dollar reward for information leading to a closed case. “Miss Dudek’s family have long-awaited answers to a very basic question: What happened to Patty?” said FBI Supervisory Special Agency Mike McElhenny.
The FBI says their role in this investigation is to provide any resources that SPD might not have. They say that could mean using forensic technology or special investigative techniques to crack the case. Investigators also say they’re not ruling out the possibility that Dudek could be somewhere outside the city. “There are people out there who know something. They know what happened to Patty. So, we’re talking directly to them,” said McElhenny.
McElhenny says while no amount of money can ever replace missed memories or a human life, investigators are hoping it’ll inspire someone to speak up. “The reward is obviously a very small token. But, we’re hoping that with all these years that have gone by, and all that’s been sacrificed by this family, that maybe this will add some motivation for someone to not come forward,” he said.
A Case Gone Cold
It all started on the icy-cold morning of January 7th, 2002. “She was approximately 5’7″ tall, 130 pounds, and she had blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a tan jacket, a dark sweatshirt, dark pair pants, and some dark Reeboks,” said Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan.
Contreras was just 15 years old at the time. She says she was getting ready to leave for school when her mother asked f she needed a ride. “She was sitting on the couch and I was getting ready to walk out the door,” said Contreras. “I told her no because my baby brother was only a couple months old, and there was ice on the ground. It was freezing cold, and I told her I could walk. I wasn’t going to run that late. I told her bye and that was it.”
That goodbye turned into almost two decades of searching for answers, a billboard, and little to no tips coming in. Contreras says her family is hoping the cash reward and support from the FBI will bring in some closure. “I think local law-enforcement have been doing really great over the past few years. The detectives that we work with are wonderful, and they haven’t given up hope at all. Bringing in the FBI, I think it’s going to help a lot,” she said.
Today, Contreras says that loss has turned into clinging even harder to an already tight-knit family. “It’s been really hard, but I have my family. I have my sister and my dad and my kids. My husband has been great through it all too,” she said. “It would’ve been nice to have her there, to have her treat my kids like she always treated me and my sister.”
Contreras says she and her family are still hanging onto are the memories they do have of Dudek. “She was the most amazing mom. She always cared about everyone around her. She took care of everyone. We never went without anything ever,” said Contreras. “I think that’s one of the things I regret the most, is not telling her I loved her the day that I walked out the door.”
Hoping For Help
Police and the family say that any information could be helpful in this case, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. You can provide information by contacting Crime Solvers at (410) 548-17-76. You can also submit tips to the FBI by calling (410) 265-8080. Salisbury Police are also accepting information, and they can be reached at (410) 548-3165. Tips may be submitted anonymously.