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Do you know where Christy Luna is? PBSO gives 'voice' to missing girl in cold case

Posted at 10:19 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 22:20:53-04

At some point throughout our day, most of us are using  social media.

But now for the first time, the very tool that connects us, is being used in a special way to revive cold cases and its generating results

About 33 years ago, 8-year-old Christy Luna disappeared from her Greenacres neighborhood. She has never been found.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office allowed Christy's "voice" to take over their Twitter account, resurrecting the young girl to share her story.

It's been years since her mom stepped in front of our cameras but on Thursday, she shared one last plea to help bring her daughter home.

"I feel very good about this. I feel like we're finally going to find my little girl," said Christy's mother, Jennie Johnson.

On the anniversary of her disappearance, PBSO tweeted from Christy's perspective for three days. Her mom helped write the tweets.

"The weekend was torture...but excitement that it might finally bring her home," she said. "A lot of people don't watch the news anymore. They're on social media. So I thought wow, this is going to be awesome. It's going to reach so many people worldwide," said Johnson.

Christy's "voice" talked about her walk to the convenience store where she was last seen, how her mom appeared on the news and how she felt as friends and family searched for her.

"We were hoping that it will stir up some emotions. Stir up some memories if we detailed everything that happened the day prior, when she was missing and the day after she was missing," said Anthony Rodriguez with PBSO media relations, who helped to tweet as Christy. "It stirred up a lot of conversation. It reached over 2 million people. So that was a really great success."

The campaign was featured in the Washington Post and on the front page of popular sharing site, Reddit.

"Get it nationwide. Get more people to talk about it the case that haven't heard it before," said Rodriguez.

Lead detective William Springer has stayed on the case all 33 years. He has retired but Sheriff Rick Bradshaw allowed him to return part-time to work cold cases.

"I don't like to give up," he said.

Springer said the campaign helped generate some leads.

"I think this is a great tool. When they brought this up to me. I thought this was a good idea," he said. "I have a person that came forward in reference to a possible abduction in the early '80s in Martin County, describing a blue car and a white male who resembled our former persons of interest," he said. "She also informed me that back in the early '80s, there was a young lady in Palm City in an area they call The Farms that somebody tried to abduct by grabbing her off a horse. If you are this person or you know this person, I'd like to talk to you. Please call."

Det. Springer said you can remain anonymous. He wants to talk to anyone with information or anyone who was almost abducted in the 1980s. Please call him at 561-688-4013 or 561-315-4188.

Victor Wonyetye, who was attending a party in Christy's neighborhood the day she disappeared, was a one of the main suspects in the case. He moved to New Hampshire and was also a suspect there in another case of a missing girl.

He ended up going to trial in the 1990s for indecent exposure and burglary charges. That's where authorities testified that prison inmates claimed Wonyetye admitted to killing Christy and the New Hampshire girl. Wonyetye was released from prison in 2012 but died eight months later.

In 2013, PBSO held a press conference hoping more people would come forward knowing that Wonyetye was no longer alive.

Nancy McBride, director for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, said with kids out of school, the campaign is raising awareness at the right time.

"Nothing beats the supervision of your kids and in the summer months when they're out and about more often and out later, that's even more important," she said.

She said parents should do research before dropping off your child to organized events or another adult's house for activities.

"If you're going to put them in any sort of organized activities, make sure you do your due diligence about the adults running the activities. Because the reality is the danger to your child is greater from somebody you or they know, than it is from a random, faceless stranger," she said.

She also said parents have a lot of tools available to them now.

"You can go to Florida Department of Law Enforcement, check out their website on sexual predators and sex offenders. Do your own backgrounds checks, ask for references on people. And drop in unexpectedly on whatever this organized event is," she said.

McBride warned against teaching your kids the phrase, "stranger danger."

"Because if that's all you teach your kids and they need help some day, and all they have are strangers, they won't have anybody to go to. Again, the danger is greater from somebody they know," she said.

By now, Christy would have been a 41-year old woman. NCMEC released a sketch of what she would look like now and wants to replicate the twitter campaign started by PBSO to help find more missing children.

"I think you're going to see more of this kind of innovative approach because it's obviously something that generates leads, generates tips and gets the child out there to a far greater audience," she said. "It takes one person with one good tip to solve a case."

PBSO was inspired by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada, which used the same tactic for a murder case.

Christy's family friends run a Facebook page that shows constant updates and information. Click here to like the page and help the family find Christy.