CROCKETT (KRON) — On Sept. 24, 1996, the body of 21-year-old Priscilla Ann Lewis was found in the basement of the then Valona Square Mall.
Lewis was a waitress at Four Corners Pizza on Second Avenue in Crockett.
Almost 23 years later — family, friends, customers gathered outside the restaurant on Saturday, sharing prayers and memories.
“This community was rocked by it,” Lewis’ cousin, Troy Kinslow said. “There’s like a black cloud over this town, it was bad.”
Contra Costa County detectives are still actively searching for leads.
Lewis’ body was found in the bathroom basement.
Detectives say at the time there were four businesses in the mall, the pizza place shared one bathroom downstairs.
“I have sleepless nights over it,” Kinslow said. “Daytime I think about it, night time I think about it. It’s gotten better as far as me going to church.”
Kinslow said Lewis would never use the restroom in the basement, she would always use the restroom at the bar across the street.
“She was brutally murdered,” Kinslow said. “She was beat, her neck was broken, she was strangled and her face was in the toilet.”
Jennifer Sylvestre was Lewis’ best friend, they worked together at Four Corners.
“She would light up every room,” Sylvestre said. “She was the friendliest most outgoing person and I am not.”
Sylvestre said in a town where everyone knows everyone, she hopes new DNA technology will help solve this case.
“I’m very very hopeful, I can’t imagine after all these years just the dna evidence hasn’t changed,” Sylvestre said. “I mean she was a great kind person but she was a fighter. There has to be — there had to be DNA under her nails. She had to have fought back, whether she knew the person or not, there’s absolutely no way that she didn’t fight for her life.”