One year after an aspiring model was murdered during a trip to Miami, the case remains active but seems to have bottomed out.
Paula Sladewski was in Miami with her boyfriend on a New Year's Eve vacation last year when she disappeared hours after visiting a local nightclub.
It's a case that's gotten national attention. But still - a full year later - and there are no answers.
Sladewski’s sister, Kelly Farris, said on the phone from Michigan Monday that she thinks the best hope for crucial information will come from someone already in jail.
"I think that's probably the only way we'll get it solve is by somebody coming forward that way," Farris said.
"She's so striking, how could you not remember seeing her [the night she was killed]?" an officer involved in the investigation said.
Indeed, the entire New Years Eve weekend a year ago, Sladewski was surrounded by people. But the crucial moment was as she walked out of the Miami night Club Space on January 3rd around 7:30 a.m.
Her body was found badly burned in a garbage dumpster in a lot outside Suburban Propane in a non-descript North Miami light industrial zone.
What's remarkable about the location a year later is that the spot is so unremarkable, so normal, given the amount of media attention it got, the amount of police investigation, and the amount of pain that it caused.
North Miami Police vow this remains an active case. "And it's not a cold case,” said Major Neal Cuevas, who insists police “absolutely” solve cases years later.
Sladewski's boyfriend, Kevin Klym, who left her alone at Space after a drunken argument, was considered by police a person of interest and remains so today, says Cuevas. But Sladewski's own sister has come to believe he was not involved and says police confirmed he was in his hotel when she was killed. She says police have dropped him as a “suspect,” but police were not available to confirm this.
Farris said she hopes time will make it easier for someone to come forward with information.
"Yeah, maybe they're too scared in the beginning," she said.
Farris has built a website, justice4paula.com, to remind the world she's still loved and that her murderer is still out there. Also that what happened in that lonely parking lot a year ago is still as painful as the day it happened.
"Yeah, it's been real rough,” said Farris, "especially around the holidays. But there's not a day goes by that I don't think about her and hope that somebody comes forward."
A sketch remains the only lead. It's of a man seen around the time she left the night club.
Police are looking for tips and the reward is up to $30,000, half of which is offered by Space Nightclub. CrimeStoppers' number is 305-471-TIPS.