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COLD CASE FILES: Suburban Mom Murdered While Jogging

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Alma Mendez (family handout to CBS)

Alma Mendez (family handout to CBS)

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CHICAGO HEIGHTS (CBS) – Alma Mendez liked to run along the Sauk Trail Lake in Chicago Heights, on the far southern edge of Cook County. It was part of her daily routine to run through the woods, along the lake.

But on Oct. 30, 2007, her body was found in the water with multiple blunt trauma injuries. Her death was ruled a homicide but her killer was never found.

Two sisters remember Alma.

“She was such a wonderful person, she was so loving, she was so friendly,” Maria Lopez told CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis. “We don’t understand who or why they would do this.”

“She was a hard-working mom, took care of her kids, was very involved in her church,” another sister, Yesenia Desma, says.

Was it random being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Detectives don’t think so. Witnesses saw someone on the path who shouldn’t have been there.

Alma may have been targeted.

cold case files COLD CASE FILES: Suburban Mom Murdered While Jogging

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“A couple people saw a truck driving on the trail, and she was run over first, as far as what we know and what the detectives told us,” Lopez said. “Then they placed the body in the water.”

The sister says it’s unlikely a hit-and-run accident occurred because trucks don’t normally drive on the trail.

In a cold case, time can unlock secrets. If you have heard someone talk about this case, or may have seen something, contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.

Alma’s sisters hold out hope that new information emerges.

“She was a daughter, she was a sister, she was a mom, she was somebody,” Desma says. “And for people to go on with their lives if they know what happened — it’s not fair to her, it’s not fair to us.”

If you know anything, please call the Cook County Sheriff’s Department at (708)865-4549.  Or email Bill Kurtis and he’ll pass the information along.

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