A year shy of 2 decades since Stefanie Hill was killed, loved ones said waiting for answers never gets any easier.
On May 29th, 2000, the 19-year-old Texas Tech student left work at the Outback Steakhouse restaurant on the South Loop. Less than an hour later, authorities responded to a fire at Stefanie’s north Lubbock apartment. When the smoke cleared, Hill’s body was found inside. They said the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Witnesses told police they saw a man around her apartment, minutes after the fire was reported. 19 years later, no arrests have been made.
“I don’t think the thought ever crossed our minds that it would go months, years, most certainly not 19 years, without someone paying for what they did to her,” Heather Grubbs said. At the time, her last name was Rosengrants. She’s since married and moved across the state, but back then, she called Stefanie a “dear friend.”
“I wonder where she would be now, because in my mind, she is always gonna be 19. She never got the opportunity to fall in love and get married and have kids,” Grubbs said. “She would have been a fabulous mom and an amazing wife. A life unfairly cut way too short.”
Grubbs said she was heartbroken for the loss of her friend, but with no one in custody, she was also concerned. She believes someone she knew killed Stefanie.
“It changed a lot of things for a very long time for me, being fearful, finding myself looking over my shoulder. It was a scary time in our lives.”
Around 2 months after the murder, Grubbs moved home to be with family.
“It’s very, very frustrating anytime I think about… there is somebody out there walking around that took the life of this precious girl and is just living their life. Kids, family, job, whatever. Not in any way paying for what they did to Stef. That is infuriating.”
When Lubbock Police formed the Metro Special Crimes Unit in December 2018, they took over Hill’s case.
“If it’s on my desk, it’s not cold,” Detective Brandon Price said. “We have a strong suspect in the case. It’s just trying to put all the pieces together. We’re not giving up on anything, and we’re hopeful to come to a conclusion.”
Price said the fire gave this case its own unique challenges.
“There was a fire that burned some of it [evidence], but there is still some stuff that we have available to us,” Price said. “Technology has changed, and it kind of gives us hope for different things and different avenues these days.”
For Grubbs, her heartbreak goes hand-in-hand with hope.
“My hope is somebody sees this, and they think of something somebody told them 19 years ago after it happened, or something that pops up now, and it might be the one key to solving this case.”