PINE RIVER -- In the past four months Jessica Winch has twice had her life turned upside-down.
The first time was when her mother, Rachel Ann Anthony, disappeared from a Pine River liquor store Feb. 27.
The second time was six weeks later, when her mother's body was found in Breezy Point.
"It started a whole second episode of my life," Winch said.
There have been no arrests in the murder of 50-year-old Anthony, and new information has been slowing down since her body was found April 13 by horseback riders in northwest Breezy Point, Cass County Sheriff Randy Fisher said.
However, Fisher added, information is still coming in and every possible lead into the case is being investigated.
"Given the circumstances it's important for law enforcement officials to maintain their resolve," Fisher said.
Anthony was working alone at Ultimate Liquors the night she went missing. There was no sign of a struggle. Her coat and purse were left in the store, her car sat idling in the street.
Investigators are still looking for the last customer thought to have visited the store about 10 p.m. Though the store was equipped with surveillance cameras, they were not recording that night.
Cass County Investigator Scott Reinhardt said, while leads are still being followed and interviews being conducted, any information from the public, no matter how trivial it may seem, should be passed on to the Cass County Sheriff's Department.
"It'd be nice to get that last customer," Reinhardt said. "If for no other reason than to see if they saw anything."
Winch often thinks about what could have happened to her mother that night.
"I think about it at least once a day," she said. "What could have happened, who did it and where were they from?"
Law enforcement officials are pondering that question, also.
"It's a lot of little things that have to be put together to get the big puzzle," said Breezy Point Police Chief Steve Rudek.
What is known is that investigators have a cash register receipt from Ultimate Liquors made at 10 p.m. Feb. 27. Reinhardt said investigators have talked to another customer who was in the store two minutes before the last customer, and that person didn't see anyone else in the store.
About 1 a.m. Pine River police officer Shawn Bennett noticed Anthony's car still idling in front of Ultimate Liquors. The front door of the store was locked. In the store law enforcement officials found Anthony's purse and her coat, unusual since temperatures had reach below freezing that night. The lights and the radio in the store were on. There were no signs of struggle, no money or merchandise taken.
Almost immediately after Anthony was reported missing, Winch and her family set up a Web site and placed fliers all over Minnesota in hope that her mother would be found.
Six weeks later, four teen-agers on horseback came across Anthony's body about 15 feet off Nelson Road in Breezy Point.
The autopsy revealed the cause of death to be asphyxia due to homicidal violence.
Winch, meantime, has been putting her life back to normal. She has been a little more at ease since her mother was found and she remains hopeful, though a little pessimistic, they will find the killer.
"It was hard just not knowing where she was, now I do a little better," she said. "It's possible I'll never know who did this, but that's something I'll have to deal with."
Winch and her family will be attending a memorial service for her mother in Ohio in July, where Anthony's ashes will be spread on Lake Erie, as were her wishes.
Winch said the support she and her family received from her co-workers and the community means a lot, and she wants people to know she is doing fine. She has yet to tell her children, a 2-year-old and a 3-year-year-old, because they won't be able to understand what happened to their grandmother.
And though the surveillance cameras weren't recording at the time Anthony disappeared, Winch harbors no blame or ill will toward the owners Ultimate Liquors, Kim and Dean Johnson.
"I know them, and they're extremely torn up about that," Winch said. "Things happen that we can't change. There's no point in dwelling on them."
The Johnsons will be planting a memorial tree in Anthony's name at their new store in Pine River.
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