SCOTT COUNTY, TENN. - A drive through the small town of Winfield pushes sad memories to the surface for Alisha Cooper.
"That wondering when you wake up until you go to bed everyday, it never stops,” said Cooper.
It was more than 5 years ago that her sister, Christina Bussell, went missing as she walked along Highway 27 in Scott County.
“She was really fun, if you were in a bad mood, she would try to cheer you up,” said Cooper. “Her kids were her world.”
"They [her children] ask a lot, if their mommy’s dead, will we ever find her, does someone know? Why aren't they telling?" said Cooper.
It was Sept. 28, 2011 when the 26 year-old mother of two vanished along the rural stretch of road where Tennessee meets Kentucky.
“It was normal for her to walk, she wasn't driving at the time, didn't have a car at the time, she'd walk down to the store or to see friends,” said Cooper.
Family and law enforcement in both Scott and McCreary counties spent weeks looking for any sign of Bussell, but nothing came up.
“We got together right away and started searching, we searched ponds, ditches, in the woods,” said Cooper. “Somewhere there has been foul play and someone has done something to her.”
Her family worries she may have gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd.
"She had some issues with drugs and took the wrong path,” said Cooper. “She wanted to change, she talked a lot about it.”
For five years, they've held vigils and prayed for new answers, but now they are hoping closure will come with a fresh pair of eyes in private investigator Joe Brodioi.
“There's people sitting there that know exactly what happened to this women and they are sitting around thinking 'If we let this go, this guy will back off soon and it will go back to the way it was,'" said Brodioi. "That’s what happened in the past. We need to wake those people up.”
Cooper connected with the private tnvestigator through a missing person’s Facebook group. He is now tackling Christina’s case pro bono.
“She either got involved in something she wasn't supposed to see, heard something she wasn't supposed to hear,” said Brodioi.
The Air Force Security Service retiree believes his separation from the case will generate new information or confessions.
“It’s funny someone will talk to you or me before they will a law enforcement person, they don't trust them,” said Brodioi.
He's only been on the trail for a month, and already more than 60 phone calls have come in, some during the dead of night.
“When I start piecing it together, it’s like a puzzle,” said Brodioi. “And its beginning to shape up a little bit and it’s not a picture that I think is a pretty picture.”
His focus is locating Christina.
“My job is not to solve the crime, I want to find a body or her if she's alive,” said Brodioi, “But there’s a point I get to where I can't do much but wait.”
“There's other people who know what happened we just need to get them to open up," he said.
Now he waits with Christina’s family, hoping someone will come forward and reveal what happened to the missing mother.
The Scott County Sheriff’s Department says this is still an open and ongoing investigation.\
If you have any tips or information regarding this case, please contact:
Private investigator Joe Brodioi, 931-636-1619
Scott County Sheriff's Department, 423-663-3111
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