Watch CBS News

Decades of Deceit

Decades of Deceit
Decades of Deceit 41:53

Produced by Ruth Chenetz

For more than 24 years, Gloria Weidner has been mourning her daughter Amy, who, at age 16, was brutally murdered in their Indianapolis home.

"There is not one day of my life that I do not think about my daughter," Gloria told "48 Hours" correspondent Troy Roberts. "She loved school. She loved education. I always thought that some day she would probably have been a teacher."

"She kind of was our leader as far as doing our chores and making dinner," said Cassie Gardner.

The youngest of the four Weidner children, Cassie was just 12 when Amy was killed. Despite the decades that have gone by, the Weidner siblings -- Taunya Strauss, one year younger than Amy, and brother J.P., one year older, have vivid recollections of their sister.

"What's some of your favorite memories of her?" Roberts asked Amy's siblings.

"My ninth birthday cake," Cassie answered quickly of the cake baked by her sister.

"We would play make believe - Karen and Bebe were our names. She always made me Bebe," Taunya recalled fondly. "Just playing and being a kid."

As for J.P., "Just how much she looked up to me," he said.

"The thing is, I had good kids," said Gloria.

Amy Weidner Gloria Weidner

Gloria, a divorced mother, was raising four children by herself, which came with challenges -- especially when she learned Amy was five-and-a-half months pregnant.

"I was overwhelmed. I just couldn't believe it," she said. "I thought that was the worst thing in the world that could happen. But, you know, I found out worse things can happen."

"How did she hide her pregnancy from you for five-and-a-half months?" Roberts asked Gloria.

"Well, she did, they wore the sweatshirts," she replied.

"You had no suspicions?"

"No. No one did," said Gloria.

That was until Amy could keep her secret no longer.

"And she just started crying. And she said, 'Mommy, I don't want you to hate me.' And I said, 'I would never hate any of my children.' I really didn't know what to do," she said.

It helped that Amy's teachers, like Jody George, were supportive.

"I just remember asking her, 'Amy, are you pregnant?'" George recalled. "And then she said, 'That's why I'm coming in every day early. I want to be sure that I'm as caught up as I can possibly be when I have to miss school.' Of course, I just said, 'Well you let me know, I'll do whatever I can do to help you.'"

Gloria made it clear to her daughter that school would remain a priority - and told Amy she didn't want her involved with the baby's father, 17-year-old Tony Abercrombie, a friend of J.P.'s that Amy had been quietly seeing.

"I was angry. I'm not gonna tell you anything different. I felt betrayed by a young man that was I would say was my son's best friend," said Gloria.

Amy Weidner holds her newborn daughter, Emily Gloria Weidner

In October of 1987, Amy gave birth to a beautiful daughter named Emily.

"I believe she missed six days of school. Not many grown women can do that," said Gloria.

"She was just a very strong student. I think the most important thing about her was her work ethic," said George.

"She had everyone to help her and she was more than capable," said Cassie.

"We called her ours, that means my family," said Gloria.

Motherhood seemed to agree with Amy. Jody George noticed a newfound confidence in her student.

"She used to talk to me about my daughter, Molly, asking me questions and I'd ask her about Emily ... and ... she would say, 'Now you know what you should do - you need to get Molly a coat this year,' or something like that," George said. "She was just giving me little bits and pieces of advice."

Still, Amy enjoyed teenage life, spending time with high school friends Angie Moore and Amy Sommers.

"Angie had a Halloween party," said Sommers. "It was hilarious. Amy was the Jolly Green Giant and Emily was Sprout. But then later on Gloria came by and picked up Emily. ... But she would, you know, allow her to have some time because she still did want her to be a teenager."

In the Weidner home, there were celebrations as well, especially on Emily's birthdays. But on Nov. 13, 1989, one month after celebrating Emily's second birthday, the Weidner home was changed forever.

"She told me her throat was hurting. And I said 'Well, OK, do you want me to take Emily to the babysitter?' And she said,' no, leave her home with me today,'" Gloria said. "I cannot remember exactly what time I started calling. But I'm gonna say probably around 9:30 -- and she didn't answer the phone ... And so when I called back and she still didn't answer, I called my neighbor ... I said, 'Would you please go check and knock on the door.' So she knocked on the door, came back and called me and said nobody's answering."

Gloria immediately left work to return home and to a scene in Amy's bedroom that will always haunt her. Her daughter was beaten, strangled and dead.

"She was laying on the bed ... You really don't know what to do. You kind of panic, you don't know what to do. And I don't remember now if I called 911 first or I got Emily out of the house," she told Roberts. "Emily was there with her."

"You knew right away that she had been murdered?" Roberts asked.

"I didn't know what had happened. I felt like somebody had done something to her. The word murder is just really a hard word. The other thing I had a problem with for a very long time, when I talked about her, I'd say, 'Well, before Amy died, after Amy died.' But the truth was she didn't just die. Another human being did this," said Gloria.


"I'm sure that there were moments when I was angry. But I think I felt more ... confused, like 'why did that have to happen,'" said Emily Weidner.

On Nov. 13, 1989, family and friends of Amy Weidner were learning the unthinkable -- that the 16-year-old's life suddenly ended. Despite the years that have gone by, emotions remain raw.

"The first thing you think of with teenagers is suicide ... And after school... a reporter was there. ... and I remember stopping and saying, 'Well, she didn't get an A from me this time -- she got a B' - thinking, 'was it because of a French grade?'" George said in tears. "And she said 'No, it's a homicide.'"

Captain Jack Geilker, now with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, was, at the time of Amy's murder, one of the first from the Indianapolis Police Department to arrive at the Weidner home.

"She had lacerations to her upper head- unclothed- and it was a scene that you don't forget," Capt. Geilker told Roberts. "There was blood prints and you could tell it was a violent scene."

Police believed Amy's murder was a result of a robbery gone wrong. Stereo equipment and cash were missing. The theory was that the assailant entered through an open back door -- Amy surprised him and a struggle ensued, during which she was raped, beaten and strangled.

"When you ... see that this young mother is murdered and the baby was there, was wandering the same floor, it's just something you don't see too much in your career, thank God," said Geilker.

Amy and Emily Weidner Gloria Weidner

Emily no longer has a memory of those events -- not even of how she learned Amy was murdered.

"I don't even remember when a serious conversation was had about it," Emily told Roberts. "I feel like from that point on, they would say, "Amy is gone.'"

"Emily talked about the crime. There was a police officer that actually interviewed victims," Gloria said. "And he used finger puppets to talk to her about the crime ... She would ... show me how she ran back and forth from her bedroom and Amy's bedroom to my bedroom."

Back then, Gloria said Emily shared a few details about what happened to Amy, or "Mamy," as Emily called her.

"She also told me that 'Mamy was mean,' meaning that she fought," Gloria explained.

At first, the family hoped the crime would be quickly solved. Whoever killed Amy had left behind a key clue.

"They had a hand print, they took parts of my wall," Gloria said. "They took all the bedding. They took clothes."

Police also conducted interviews with people like Amy's classmate, Angie Moore.

"They obviously wanted to know who she'd been around -- who she's been dating, what she's been doing, where she's been," she explained.

Even Amy's brother, J.P., who was 17 at the time, was questioned.

"What kind of questions did they ask?" Roberts asked J.P.

"Really, I don't remember all the questions they asked. They were accusing me of doing it and it was pretty tough," he replied.

"I talked with him," Geilker said. "You gotta consider everybody in a situation like that."

As police investigated, the news of Amy's murder spread.

"The room was full of students who needed help coping," George said, overcome with emotion. "But nobody teaches you how to help kids cope with tragedy."

At school, Jody George wrote a letter to help Amy's classmates. It read, in part, "We have all suffered deeply because of Amy's death. How can we accept it? Why does sorrow have to be part of our lives?"

"It was unfortunately my first funeral. I remember being so overwhelmed with sadness that I almost couldn't feel," said friend Amy Sommers.

Attending the funeral, were not just those close to Amy, but also, detectives.

"We went to the cemetery and to the funeral home the night before just to watch people," Geilker explained. "With the leads that we'd had, the names we'd been given, you gotta go there, study what's there.

One of the names they were given was Tony Abercrombie, the friend who got Amy pregnant, who appeared in a news report a day after Amy's murder.

"Great girl, wasn't really too many like her out there. She was very, very smart. Pretty," Abercrombie told a reporter.

Joy Haney was friends with Tony Abercrombie and Amy - living across street from the Weidners at the time of the murder.

"I actually called him at work," Haney said. "I said, 'Hey you need to come home, there's something wrong."

"I had to leave work because I was just tore up. I mean, hit me pretty hard," Abercrombie told the reporter.

Abercrombie had an alibi. So eyes turned to another friend, Troy Jackson, who lived in a house behind the Weidners, and who, police say, knew about the stereo equipment stolen on the day of the murder .

DNA testing was in early stages, so police photographed Jackson's hands, which did not show bruises from a struggle. Jackson also submitted hair samples, which did not match any found in Amy's room, and he passed a polygraph test. So, detectives continued their investigation into other suspects.

Weeks went by, then months -- and still no arrest, as family and friends wondered, was there a killer in their midst?

"We didn't know who it was. You're leery of everyone," said Gloria.

"It's just constantly in the back of your head, wondering who," added Cassie.


"It's a sad thought, knowing the family you could have been growing up versus the family that just fell apart and they didn't really know how to put the pieces back together to become that family that they were before Amy died," Emily Weidner told Troy Roberts.

"We became a family that really didn't talk for a long time. It was -- you didn't know what to say. My children didn't even come home from school for awhile until they knew I was home," Gloria said. "It was difficult."

"This house holds a lot of memories, some of them painful," Roberts noted to Gloria.

"Yes," she agreed.

"Why did you decide to stay?"

"I had no money. I had four other children. Where am I going to move to?" Gloria replied.

Gloria did her best to keep life normal for her family; she legally adopted Emily. The little girl who had been a granddaughter and a niece became daughter and sister.

"I was raised knowing ... Cassie and Taunya as my sisters and John Paul as my brother ... And mom, Gloria, as Mom," Emily explained. "I understand that Amy is my biological mother, but Gloria has raised me ... So she's absolutely my mom."

Family and friends kept Amy's memory alive with stories for Emily. As did teachers, like Jody George, who had both Amy and Emily in her French classes.

"I said, 'I just remember so many things about your mother and about how your mother felt about you,'" George said. "And when it was time for her to graduate, we talked a little bit and I just said to her, 'I know your mother would be so proud of you right now.'"

While Emily only recalls life following Amy's death, she says when watching home movies, she can see a before and after.

"Birthdays one and two, family is great -- they are all happy," Emily said. "And after that, it sort of changes. You can feel the difference in their personalities."

It was tough going for everyone. Police believed Amy had been murdered by an acquaintance, and with no arrest, fear and suspicion spread.

"When I'd come home and I know one of my children ... were supposed to be home and they're not answering me, and I have to walk up those same stairs to find out if they're in their room, it's terror ... because you don't know what you're going to see," said Gloria.

"I was absolutely terrified. I asked my dad to put nails in my windows," Amy Sommers said. "And then when you go a few weeks, months, years and you're thinking, 'I could be standing at the grocery store next to this person and I'd have no idea.'"

"It was unbelievable, because you think there's a print on the wall and we can't figure out who it is," said Angie Moore.

But police could not find a match for that promising lead -- the hand print -- and the investigation grew cold. Years would go by without contact from the police.

"Sometimes you get to the point -- or I got to the point -- that maybe I didn't want them to solve it. I wanted them just to go away and leave us alone," said Gloria.

"But you certainly, you wanted justice for your daughter?" Roberts asked Gloria.

"Yes," she replied. "And it's not that I didn't want it solved. Truth is, I wanted it all to go away. ... Because every time they come back with something else, you start all over again."

Like in 2002, when police thought they had a promising lead.

Twelve years after Amy's murder, Roger Spurgeon was heading the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's new cold case unit.

"This call came in ... about a person willing to talk about an old murder," Lt. Spurgeon said. "He was telling me that he had had some dreams about this murder that happened ultimately back in 1989 ... and that he, from this dream, believed he knew who the suspect was."

Spurgeon was not familiar with Amy Weidner's murder -- it was in a pile of 800 cold cases -- but the caller seemed to know all about it.

"A lot of information did match up, but," Spurgeon told Roberts, "there really was not a lot of what he had spoken of that could not have been gleaned from news reports at that time."

It was determined the caller was not a legitimate source, but it raised Spurgeon's interest.

"Did this look like a case that could be solved?" Roberts asked Spurgeon.

"Well, I believe that all cases potentially could be solved," he replied.

"What were the challenges of this particular case though?"

"It was really difficult to kind of figure out who the suspects might most likely be," Spurgeon told Roberts. "You know, is this somebody that simply was committing a burglary and it was a burglary that went bad? ... Is this somebody that had some sort of a relationship with Amy?"

Still, Spurgeon had persons of interest. He spoke again to several people previously investigated.

"And then a few years pass after I've done everything I can do. I move on to another job," he said.

Friends created a Facebook page hoping it would help solve Amy's murder CBS News

The case remained with the cold case unit, with no new leads. Then, in 2011, in response to a newspaper article about unsolved cases, friends created a "Remembering Amy Weidner" Facebook page. The cold case detectives were not familiar with Facebook, but knew someone who was: Det. Sgt. William Carter, a nuisance abatement officer.

Concerned with quality of life issues, like underage drinking and overcrowding, Det. Sgt. Carter uses Facebook to try to find events being promoted -- not solve murders.

"I really knew nothing about the case," Carter admitted. "My job was to print this Facebook memorial page out. I looked at it and eventually I read the case file, the case notes ... It's something that I dove into and just couldn't put it down."

"But no one asked you to read the file, did they?" Roberts asked.

"No," Carter replied.

"So what prompted you to just pick up the file, take it home and read 65 pages? Why were you intrigued?"

"I think it was the photo we always saw of Amy," he replied.

On his own time, Carter continued working the case, looking at everything that had been collected over two decades: evidence at the crime scene, school attendance records from the day Amy was killed, even the list of people attending the funeral.

"In the file was the original palm print that was recovered from the scene," Carter explained. "Older files were of course all typewritten."

Carter entered it all into a database and soon realized the other investigators had overlooked some leads.

"There [were] tons of friends of her brother's ... that they'd never even talked to and never got DNA from," he told Roberts. "Once I saw a lot of those things, I guess it became a mission of mine to say, 'We're gonna fix this.'"

A key piece of evidence: a bloody palm print found on Amy's bedroom wall Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept.

Asked what he had to work with to solve this crime, Carter told Roberts, "I had the original palm print. It was a full palm print that was left on the wall in Amy's blood. And I had some partial DNA, not enough DNA to put into the national database."

Carter started contacting the Weidner's family and friends, asking for names of people who might remember anything, and began collecting DNA from individuals police had ruled out.

"Did you canvass this neighborhood when you started investigating?" Roberts asked.

"Luckily in 1989, when they canvassed the neighborhood, they wrote down and took notes of everybody that lived in the neighborhood ... and I took those notes and went to those homes to see if those people still lived there. And for the most part, most of them did not," Carter replied.

So he tracked down old neighbors, like Joy Haney -- Amy's friend who had lived across the street.

"He just mainly was asking me to kind of recall the day and if there was anybody that, you know, stuck out in my mind or just give him names of, you know, people that hung out with us," said Haney.

Most of the people Haney mentioned were ones Carter was already familiar with and had been cleared of wrongdoing. But one name was new. A name that Carter hoped could solve a 22-year-old mystery.

"We probably all turned pale," Gloria said. "It was --disbelief."


"It would come in waves. There would be times where I was very hopeful and I thought, "'Yes, certainly, certainly this could be solved,'" said Emily Weidner, who for more than two decades had been waiting for justice.

"And then there were times where so many years had gone by that I didn't know. I didn't know anymore," she said.

But in 2012, with the cold case's unit's approval, Det. Sgt. Bill Carter was on the case and asking lots of questions.

"I reached out to one of the former neighbors ... and she gave me the name of Rodney Denk ... Not as a suspect, just talk to Rodney and see if he actually knew anything," Carter said. "But Rodney Denk was a new name that I hadn't heard.

But the Weidners were very familiar with him.

"I hadn't seen him in a long time, but I would have considered him to be a good friend," said J.P. Weidner.

"What kind of things did you do with Rodney?" Roberts asked.

"Just normal things that kids do -- running around, being teenagers," J.P. replied. "... riding bikes, fishing."

"When Detective Carter asked me about Rodney, I said, 'No.' I said, 'Rodney was quiet. Kept to himself,'" sister Cassie Gardner said. "There wasn't a suspicion of Rodney."

Still, Carter went to Denk's Indianapolis home. Long divorced from a woman with whom he had a son, Denk lived with his mother, but was at work at an auto shop went Carter came by. So, he left his card with Denk's mother.

"He did call the office, left me a message. I immediately called him back and asked him if he would meet me, I needed to talk to him about this case. And I told him Amy Weidner," Carter said. "And that was it."

Denk agreed to meet at his house, but when Carter arrived, he was nowhere to be found. Now, Carter was suspicious and ran Denk's name to see if he had prior arrests; he found a 1991 battery and a 1997 larceny. With his interest raised, Carter took the prints from Denk's last arrest to the forensic unit to compare to the palm print from Amy's bedroom wall.

"My goal was kind of, 'hey I'll submit the print. If it doesn't match, we'll just move on,'" he explained. "I just wanted to clear him as a suspect."

Later that day, Carter checked back with forensics to see if he could cross Denk of his list. Instead, he received stunning news: Rodney Denk's print was a match. Twenty-two years of waiting were over. Finally, there was a real suspect for the murder of Amy Weidner.

"I was kind of shocked. I really didn't expect it, really, to be that easy," he told Roberts.

While it had been a year since Carter had been asked to look at Amy's Facebook page, it was only in the past two weeks that he began questioning potential suspects. And now, he felt he had his man.

But Denk had disappeared.

"We contacted our fugitive task force unit to try to track him down," Carter said. "He had used his credit card to rent ... a car that's equipped with OnStar."

With the help of the OnStar tracking device in the rental car, detectives went in search of Denk. Meanwhile, Carter let the Weidners know they had identified a suspect, but did not give a name.

"Did you feel a wave of relief?" Roberts asked Cassie of hearing the news.

"No, almost fear," she replied.

"Why fear?"

"'Cause who is it?" she said.

A few hours later, they would have their answer. Denk's rental car was found in Indianapolis, where he was visiting a friend. As Denk was about to get into his car, police approached him and he pulled out a knife.

"He made a statement, something to the effect of 'I didn't do it' and he had a knife that he cut his wrist with," Lt. Spurgeon said. "But they were able to bring him into custody without any further injury to himself or any other officers."

While Denk was taken to a hospital to treat his wounds, the Weidners wondered why their former friend would betray them.

"To comprehend that this person that you knew did this, it's just impossible to wrap your mind around it," said Gloria.

"I think the four of us just stood there looking at each other in shock," said Cassie.

"I found out through Cassie ... and my next thought was 'Oh my gosh, he was at the funeral with us,'" Amy Sommers said."How can you commit this murder, this brutal, to someone you know and two days later sit with us at the funeral and mourn with us?"

Denk had even signed the visitors' book at Amy's funeral - and that wasn't the only place Carter found Denk's name.

"Denk was overlooked -- his name was given to a detective ... as somebody to talk to and -" said Carter.

"Did they talk to him?" Roberts asked.

"They didn't talk to him at all," Carter replied.

"Had you heard the name Rodney Denk before Sgt. Carter came to you?" Robert asked Spurgeon.

"No. Never heard that name," he replied.

However, Denk's name appeared in a 2003 statement from Tony Abercrombie, Emily's birth father, as someone who spent time at the Weidner home - a statement taken by Spurgeon when he led the cold case unit.

"If the name Rodney Denk ever came up in the course of my investigation or relooking through the files, that was one of literally dozens upon dozens of names that I may simply have not had the opportunity to look at during my years of the investigation. I simply don't recall seeing that name," said Spurgeon.

"What I don't understand is how did you recognize the mistakes that were made in this investigation that seasoned detectives overlooked?" Roberts asked Carter.

"I respected those people, cause I assumed, hey, you know, I've never done this job, I'm just more a civil type police officer, but I don't know why no one ever looked at Rodney Denk. I really don't," he replied.

"For some reason," Emily said, "Detective Carter found it in his heart, and who he is, to just have this determination to find who Amy's killer was."

"When you walked into homicide, were you met with wild applause?" Roberts asked Carter.

"I don't know, I really don't know," he said with a laugh. "I always felt like I was stepping out of where I belonged."

Det. Sgt. Bill Carter addresses reporters WISH

Still, Carter found himself an unlikely hero, at the center of a press conference.

"Been a long time coming for the family, I will say that. I'm just happy we do have someone in custody, and we can offer some closure to the family," Carter addressed reporters, trying to keep his composure.

"It was emotional for me to think that you know, all these years, after all these years, you know, it was somebody that was there. It wasn't the boogie man. It was somebody that was a friend of their family," Carter told 48 Hours.

With Denk now under arrest and in the hospital, investigators got some long overdue answers about his motive. It was, as suspected, a robbery gone terribly wrong:

Det. Carter: You feel like you can tell us and finally put this to bed, what you carried for 22 years?

Rodney Denk: Yes.

Rodney Denk: I didn't know she was in there. I was in John Paul's room, take the radios. And she came around the corner and I hit her in the head.

Over the course of 48 hours, police questioned Denk on videotape, who admitted to raping and hitting Amy with an object, but kept changing his story about whether he acted alone:

Rodney Denk: You had one dude was like staking out the house. His name was like Bucky or Buck or some crap... Maybe it wasn't Buck -- maybe it was the other guy I don't remember.

Rodney Denk: I don't remember a whole lot about that day. ...Can't I just say it was me, I did everything and ...

Rodney Denk questioned by police 02:55

One thing Denk seemed certain about was that he never saw Emily:

Det. Carter: Where was Emily?

Rodney Denk: I don't know.

Det. Carter: Did you ever see the baby at all?

Rodney Denk: No.

Det. Carter: Did you ever hear the baby crying?

Rodney Denk: I didn't remember seeing or hearing the baby.

"In the time that you spoke to him, what were your impressions of Rodney Denk?" Roberts asked Carter.

"Was never upset, never screamed, never hollered, was pleasant with us," Carter replied. "Not, what I would think would be a killer."

Denk provided a DNA sample which, as expected, matched semen taken in 1989 from Amy's sheet and blanket. However, there was something unexpected that police discovered during their investigation about Rodney Denk's son, Dillon.


"I always tried to be a good person, but guess somewhere deep down inside, I'm not a good person," Rodney Denk told detectives.

With Rodney Denk in custody for the murder of Amy Weidner, detectives were learning more about their suspect, including something shocking about Denk's son, Dillon.

"It was very odd to me that ... father and son, about the same age committed two terrible acts, horrible acts.

In 2009, Dillon Denk was charged with murdering his mother, Mary McHenry -- beating her to death with a baseball bat. The circumstances stand out to Kentucky Commonwealth attorney Bruce Kuegel.

"This is probably best described as just a bizarre coincidence," Kuegel told 48 Hours. "It's the brutality of the crime. The fact that he is so young. ...He was 16 years old at the time, almost 17. In fact, during that week, he turned 17."

That's one year younger than his father, Rodney, was at the time of Amy's murder.

"This one involved just a brutal act by a son against his mother," said Kuegel .

A mother, who, according to court testimony, had a history of abusing Dillon. Rodney Denk had little contact with his son or ex-wife for years. But he did attend some of Dillon's hearings, prompting a social worker to recommend Dillon be released to his father, who no one knew was living with his own secret. However, the judge ruled against releasing Dillon.

In a plea deal, Dillon Denk was sentenced to 20 years. Meanwhile, his father was looking at spending the rest of his life in prison for the murder of Amy Weidner.

"You were prepared to stare down evil. You were preparing to go to trial?" Roberts asked Gloria Weidner.

"Uh, huh, and worried to death about it," she said. "I didn't want my girls and my son to have to hear or see any of the things that I saw when I found her."

Gloria Weidner was set to go to trial, as was Marion County prosecutor Denise Robinson. Attempts at a plea deal had been stalled, until Denk told the prosecutor no one else was involved in Amy's murder.

"Before you offered him this plea agreement, he had to make certain admissions to you?" Roberts asked Robinson.

"Yes, he told us he acted alone -- which was something that we had felt confident in after we had intercepted some jail calls that he had made to his mother," she replied. "We wanted to be able to tell the family that there wasn't another suspect out there that we should be looking for."

Amy Weidner murder: A look at the evidence 02:31

In June of 2012, just 10 days before the trial was scheduled to start, Denk pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of Amy Weidner. He would be sentenced to 65 years.

Despite Denk finally admitting to acting alone, family members and police are not completely convinced.

"Was he really the only one? Was there other people that knew he did it?" Gloria wondered.

"That's something we're not going to know unless Rodney tells us those things," said Carter.

"I just can't definitively say that with the arrest of Rodney Denk, the case is absolutely closed and he's the only one that will ever be held accountable for it," said Lt. Spurgeon.

Without a trial, the Weidners would not hear testimony about what may have occurred, but at hearings and sentencing, they faced the man who changed all their lives.

"I had prepared myself to feel this anger and overwhelming rage. And when they brought him in, all I saw was Rodney," said Gloria;

For the Weidners, having Denk behind bars has brought some resolution, but the impact of Amy's murder still haunts them.

"They still know that Amy is not coming back. So relief yes, but there's definitely still sadness there," said Emily Weidner.

"I miss her. And the thing is the older I get, the more I miss her. Cause they're all grown and they have their families, and they have their lives and she's not here," Gloria explained in tears.

Asked what triggers the pain, Gloria told Roberts, "Just Emily's birthdays, Emily's accomplishments -- her graduations. I always feel like it should be Amy here enjoying these," she replied.

Gloria tries, as best she can, to focus on the present. Amy's old bedroom, the site of the murder and a place she once feared, is now used for happier times.

"It's for my grandchildren now, when they come to stay, they have a room," Gloria said, standing in what was once Amy's room. "The only thing that's in here that was here when Amy was here is the hat that's on the door. ...It's not Amy's room any more. Amy's in me. She'll always be with me. "

Those touched by Amy have found, through the years, different ways to cope with their sorrow.

For Angie Moore and Amy Sommers, visits to their friend's grave help -- as does reading that as does reading that letter from long ago that teacher Jody George gave students from long ago that teacher Jody George gave students, which Sommers still keeps nearby.

"My advice to you is this. Be kind to others always, even if it hurts," Sommers read aloud.

"You go through life and you wonder, 'I'm really introverted, I wonder why?' Or I get really angry at certain things. Maybe it's because of what happened, but I don't know," said Emily.

Emily felt a change of scenery might provide some answers. A year after graduating college, she left Indianapolis for California.

"I couldn't be who I thought I was supposed to be in Indiana. And I don't know that I'm necessarily the person I'm supposed to be yet, but I'm getting closer in California," she told Roberts.

Emily visits when she can. "48 Hours" brought her to Indianapolis to be part of a celebration decades in the making.

Weidner family remembers Amy, honors Det. Carter 01:37

"We're calling this a mid west open house," Gloria said of the gathering.

"Amy would have loved this -- she's here, believe me, she's here," Gloria told a guest.

It was an opportunity to share memories of Amy as well as to honor the man who did what others could not.

"On behalf of everyone here, I say thank you from the bottom of our hearts," Cassie addressed Det. Sgt. Bill Carter.

Then came the release of 24 balloons. "One for every year that we've been without Amy," said Cassie.

"It's nice for me to hear so many people who adore this girl -- and she was a girl -- she was 16," Emily said. "She had, like impact. She was there and she had a purpose. I like that 'cause it makes me think, 'That was my mom.' That was, 'Yeah, I'd like to be like that.'"

In January of 2014, Bill Carter received the Indianapolis Police Department Award of Merit.

Carter was offered the opportunity to join the homicide unit; he has decided to remain a nuisance abatement officer.


On his own time, Det. Sgt. Carter is looking into the cold case of a murdered 19-year-old woman.

On March 23, 1993, Carmen Van Huss was killed in her Indianapolis apartment. Investigators say she was stabbed multiple times and raped before she died.

Help solve an Indianapolis cold case 01:00

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Central Indiana Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 under Crime Stoppers Case #130705.

Carter has also set up a Facebook page, Justice for Carmen Van Huss.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.