The death of your child is every parent's nightmare.
More than 42 years later, the unsolved murder of 9-year-old Patty Ann Smith of Quincy still haunts her now 72-year-old father.
"It just almost destroyed me," Floyd Smith said. "That's the only thing I can say. It almost destroyed me, and it's not just me. A lot of other people, too. It's just like it happened yesterday afternoon to me."
Family and friends who still remember Patty Ann and want her murder solved hope Facebook will help. They have started a Facebook page, where people post whatever they remember about Patty Ann and her murder case.
Patty Ann's father thinks the biggest clue to his daughter's death came during a conversation with his stepmother five years ago at a family funeral.
"She walked over and sat down and started talking with me and all of a sudden she turned around and looked at me and said, 'You know your dad murdered your daughter? You know that don't you?'" Smith said. "She said, 'You know your dad did that?'"
"I said, 'Why are you telling me this now? Why? He's been dead for 30 years. Why are you doing this now?' She said, 'Well, I just thought you ought to know.'"
Floyd Smith's stepmother denies she made those statements about her late husband, who died some 30 years ago. She did describe a little girl's barrette she found in her husband's car just days after Patty Ann went missing. She said it could've belonged to Patty Ann, to one of Patty Ann's sisters or to another little girl who could have been in the car.
She also says her late husband made potentially incriminating statements before Patty Ann's body was found south of Quincy, such as, "They're not going to find her."
When asked about his relationship with his late father, Floyd Smith said it was typical of most father-son relationships: There were things he didn't like, but the bond between family ran deep.
"Yeah, he had some things about him he didn't like. Believe me," he said. "But it's your father. You try to get him to acknowledge you, which I'm not sure that he ever did. He was too busy with women. He was obsessed."
But to think that his father was capable of killing his own granddaughter, Smith said the thought was difficult to believe.
"I knew he was capable of hatred toward his wives if he didn't know where they were," Smith said. "All I know is that if I would've known it a long time ago, you would've had to be in prison talking with me, because I wouldn't be sitting here."
Sgt. John Summers with the Quincy Police Department said, "Whether this person is responsible for it, I don't know," Summers said. "Like I said, he'd indeed be a person of interest. There is no evidence that would indicate that he was involved in this. There is speculation."
The truth is buried with Ralph Smith, Sr. at Greenmount Cemetery in Quincy just feet away from Patty Ann's grave.
"I may move (Patty Ann's grave) before it's all said and done," Smith said. "I can't tell you that it'll happen, but it might. We've looked into that. He's gone. He's where he needs to be and I'm sure she is, too. if there's a heaven, I know where she's at."
Floyd Smith's stepmother said she's not 100 percent sure that Ralph, who died in 1978, killed Patty Ann. She says the barrette has haunted her all of these years. After her biological daughter told her years later that Ralph had tried to mess with her when she was young, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together.
"Sometime, I wish she would've taken it on to the grave with her, but she didn't," Smith said of his stepmother. "But she gave me closure, and that's really what I wanted. Because I never could've talked about this until all this happened. In this world, he beat the system. But I don't think he'll beat it in the next one. I know now. I know he did it. I just pray that there's a hell."
But Summer holds out little hope that any tangible closure will occur in this world.
"Well, I like to think in law enforcement there's never any closure until someone is found who has committed this crime and has actually been convicted of that crime," he said. "If the family can get closure on this case, I hope they can. Myself, I probably never will until the case is solved."You're invited to share your memories of Patty Ann Smith and what you remember most about the case below and on our Facebook page.