Clay County dive team searches in '01 killing of teen

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Deputies and a dive team in Clay County are investigating leads on a cold case of a 14-year-old girl whose body was found in 2001, a week after she left her home.

Investigators closed County Road 217 about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to conduct the search.

Jennifer Medernach left her Westside home Nov. 1, 2001, after she had an argument with her mother over cleaning her room. Her body was found in Longbranch Creek in Clay County a week later.

IMAGES: Dive team searches creek in 2001 cold case

The Medical Examiner said she'd been stabbed to death.

The case remains unsolved, and up until earlier this year, there had been little apparent movement. But in May, Clay County deputies and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement searched a home at 200 McClelland Road for possible evidence in the girl's killing, but nothing was found.

That home was about two miles away from where Medernach's body was found.

On Tuesday and again Wednesday, the dive team was doing another search for evidence in the creek. They said they had training anyway and were taking the opportunity to search the creek, which they've searched before, to see if they can find anything new with better equipment than they had 12 years ago.

"We hope that with the new technology of underwater metal detectors that we may be able to find some evidence in the case," said Capt. Ronnie Gann, of the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

Medernach's mother has since died. Her dad lives in Jacksonville.

Medernach would have been 26 years old now. After the argument with her mom, she tidied her room up, kissed her mom on the cheek and said, "I love you. I'll see you later."

She never came back.

"This was a 14-year-old girl who was brutally murdered and dumped in the creek like a piece of trash," Gann said.

Gann spoke of the renewed effort to search for evidence in the case.

"We've had detectives retire who have worked the case, we have a new set of detectives who have been in the unit a couple of years, so it's giving a chance of new ideas and a fresh set of eyes to look at the crime scene and the evidence and talk to witnesses again."

One diver said searchers found some things Wednesday that were underneath the dirt a foot or two down that were not related to the case. Divers said they found a padlock and pocket knife, which they'll hold onto just in case.