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Dannarriah Finley, 20 years later | What police hope will help solve the murder of a 4-year-old girl from Orange

"I've never forgotten what happened to Dannarriah Finley."

ORANGE, Texas — On July 4, 2002, Dannarriah Finley was taken from her home in Orange. Her body was found on Pleasure Island four days later.

The 4-year-old girl was raped and murdered just weeks shy of her fifth birthday.

Police and Finley's family believe she was snatched from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Twenty years later, the case remains unsolved.  

Monday marks 20 years of mourning and searching for answers for Finley's family. Every 4th of July, this is the sad story the people of Orange are reminded of. 

The community has not giving up on Finley's case, and the opportunity for evidence to be tested again has given police new hope.

Related: Cold case: Searching for Dannarriah Finley's killer, sixteen years later

The unthinkable crime united the city of Orange. When Finley disappeared, the community came together to search for her.

"We searched and searched,” Pastor C.W. Crawford with the Mountain Missionary Baptist Church said. “Everybody was afraid. Everybody was holding their children close to them, because nothing had happened like that in Orange, Texas."

The Orange Police Department and FBI searched and investigated but never made any arrests. However, police are confident that with new technology and the right tip from the public, they can solve the case and give Finley's family closure.

"In Dannarriah's case, there's not necessarily untested evidence, but there might be, for lack of a better term, under-tested evidence,” Brandon Bess, investigator with the Texas Rangers, said. “So, what they did in 2018, even up into 2019, we may have an improvement."

Law enforcement are planning on retesting evidence found at the scene. Bess believes new and improved technology might be able to pick up smaller samples of DNA.

"There's two items of evidence that they recovered that we believe we're now going to retest again," Bess said.

Credit: Family

Related: Dannarriah Finley's murder case remains open 11 years later

In addition to new technology, Bess believes a tip from the public will help crack the case wide open. Bess feels that those involved must have told someone about what happened to Dannarriah Finley.

"I think the most important part of this case is that we'll solve this case [with] the right witness coming forward,” Bess said. “Everyone agrees that the folks that were involved in this absolutely talked to someone else. They did not keep this a total secret."

Bess believes more than one person may have been involved. 

"We believe multiple persons at least knows about this, and that there's somebody out there they can bring us that little piece of information that, you know, they may not think it's important, but it is," Bess said. 

The case has been described as unique, baffling and terrifying and has haunted Southeast Texas for 20 years.  

"This is probably the most unique case in Southeast Texas," Orange Police Department Detective Sergeant Stephen Ward said. 

The Orange Police Department has not forgotten about Dannarriah Finley, Ward said.

"This is the epitome of cases and City of Orange, and so anybody that works here knows the details of this case," Ward said. "We are constantly reviewing things. This isn't something we put on the back burner. It's in the forefront of all of our cases."

The case still haunts the City of Orange.

"Even in my congregation, I'm somewhat nervous when I see little children coming down stairs by themselves to use the restroom,” Pastor Crawford said. "I've never forgotten what happened to Dannarriah Finley."

Anyone who has information, no matter how insignificant they think it might be, is encouraged to call the Orange Police Department, Texas Rangers, or submit an anonymous crime stoppers tip.

There is still a reward on the table for any tips that lead to finding Dannarriah Finley's killer.

Texas Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $3,000 to any person who provides information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for this crime.

This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

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If you have information about a crime you could earn a cash reward of up to $1000 by providing an ANONYMOUS tip to Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas. 

Call 833-TIPS (8477) or download the P3Tips App on your mobile device to submit your tip anonymously. 

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