People with information about Lawless' murder continue to call the Scott County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Rick Walter said. Lawless was murdered in 1992, and Josh Kezer was found guilty of murdering her the same year but was exonerated in 2009.
Because of Kezer's exoneration, the case remains open.
"We're still devoting a lot of time to it," Walter said.
Perhaps the biggest development in the case isn't a new clue or suspect but a new investigator, Walter said. An investigator from another agency will more than likely join the two-decade-old case soon. Walter did not release the name of the investigator or that person's agency. Walter and detective Brandon Caid have been the only ones on the case since it was reopened.
"An outside investigator will be great for this case," Walter said. "We'll be able to take a better look and maybe have another perspective."
Walter said that, while nothing is official, he expects the new team member soon.
Even with a fresh set of eyes, the investigation will be tough, Walter said.
"We're relying on a lot of people's memories from 1992," Walter said, noting that several alibis can be difficult to verify because people have moved away or died since the murder.
People are also reluctant to go on record or even come forward with pertinent information about the murder, he said. With the information it has received on the record, the Scott County Sheriff's Department's main goal in the investigation now is to eliminate suspects.
Walter said a prime suspect was recently taken off the list after he verified the man was not in the area when Lawless was murdered in 1992.
"He knew Lawless and had a motive but just wasn't around when she was murdered," Walter said after speaking to the former suspect for 30 minutes.
The department has also received information that Walter believes attempted to drive investigators off the trail of the actual killer. Walter said that in several instances he has known the information was false but still looked into to it just to verify it wasn't true.
"There are a lot of folks who do not want to see this murder solved," he said. "But if we don't chase these leads, we could miss something. If we chase them, we can say, 'Yes, this person has an alibi.'"
In addition to new leads and a potential new investigator, advances in technology have helped Walter in the Lawless murder. Walter is working with a private laboratory and forensic photographer to develop an image of a fingerprint an English scientist lifted from a piece of evidence in the case last year.
The scientist, Dr. John Bond, invented a technique for print detection in 2008. His method involves analyzing the corrosion on a metal surface caused by sweat. His technique has been used in up to 100 murder cases in several countries.
Once a clear photograph of the print can be developed, the department hopes the fingerprint can be entered into the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification Database. They ultimately hope the print matches one already in the system, Walter said.
"The investigation is going really well, and we're excited to know more soon," said Jason Lawless, Angela Mischelle Lawless' brother.
Josh Kezer said he has been pleased with Walter's work in the investigation and the direction it is going.
"Walter knows how important this investigation is to Southeast Missouri," Kezer said. "I continue to support him."
After spending 16 years in prison for Angela Lawless' murder, Kezer was exonerated of the crime by Cole County Judge Richard Callahan on Feb. 17, 2009. He was released from prison the following day.
"I've been living life, enjoying life," Kezer said.
Kezer said he reads updates on the investigation and remembers how the investigation touched his life. Everything that has happened during the investigation has caused a ripple effect and touched everyone in the community, he said.
"This investigation is still relevant to everyone," he said. "It's still something that affects everyone every day."
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