Rachel Hurley was 14 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found in a wooded area at Carlin Park near the beach in Jupiter, Florida, more than 30 years ago, and the person responsible for her death has yet to be brought to justice.
It was a windy St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1990, when Rachel, an eighth-grade student at Jupiter Middle School, went to lunch with a group of her friends.
They then went boating near the Jupiter Inlet, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
During the boat ride, Rachel asked one of her friends for the time.
When she learned that it was 2:45 p.m., she began to worry, as she knew her mother, Andrea Hurley, was going to pick her up at Carlin Park at 3 p.m., and she didn’t want to be late.
Rachel got off the boat at a dock in Dubois Park at the Jupiter Inlet. Two of her friends, Maddy and Erin, got off the boat as well.
Just as Rachel was about to take off, they asked her to wait while they went to the restroom. Rachel was in such a hurry that she flipped her hair and began running in the direction of Carlin Park, which was about a mile away.
That was the last time the aspiring fighter pilot was seen alive.
When her mother arrived at Carlin Park to pick her up, Rachel wasn’t there. Andrea initially thought that they might have agreed to meet at the Jupiter Inlet instead.
“I thought I’m going to go down to the inlet park, and she’s going to be standing there and say, ‘Well, I told you the inlet park,” Andrea said in 1991.
She went to Jupiter Inlet, but Rachel wasn’t there either. Andrea then drove to her home to see if she was there, but she wasn’t. That’s when she knew something was wrong.
Andrea returned to the park with her neighbors and friends, and together they commenced searching for Rachel.
When they couldn’t find her, Andrea contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and reported Rachel missing.
NBC News reported that more than “100 deputies, two boats, one helicopter, eight mounted deputies, and three canine units” helped search for the missing teen.
At approximately 8:15 p.m. on March 17, 1999, Rachel was found dead.
Her partially clothed body was found face up under heavy brush near a path in a wooded area at Carlin Park, about a mile from where she was last seen.
Some of her clothing was found scattered nearby.
An autopsy revealed that Rachel died of asphyxiation. It was also uncovered that she had been raped and had defensive wounds on her body.
Authorities surmise that when Rachel got off the boat, she walked along the beach and eventually took a shortcut through a wooded area, where she was attacked, raped, and smothered to death.
A homeless man is believed to be Rachel’s killer, as the area where her body was found was home to several vagrants.
Around the time she would have been killed, a high school student told investigators that a tall, disheveled man was seen leaving the wooded area, and he appeared nervous.
More than 125 men, including the homeless, were tested, and none of their DNA matched the DNA found on Rachel’s body.
In 1994, police officials released a composite sketch of a man who a witness said was sitting on the beach, just north of the Civic Center, after they heard someone scream in the woods.
Before they could come into contact with the man, he left, The Palm Beach Post reported.
To honor Rachel’s memory, the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners renamed a softball field after her in 1991.
Her mother stated that she enjoyed playing softball at Jupiter Park and considered it the “best place to be.”
In a video, PBSO Detective William Springer said, “How would you feel if your daughter didn’t come home and then she was found viciously murdered?”
“And you knew something about it, or you knew somebody knew something about it, and that person didn’t have the fortitude to man up and come out and help you.”
Springer added, “I mean, I can’t picture going to bed at night knowing that my daughter or son was murdered and nobody wants to help. I mean, that’s a terrible loss.”
“I know that somebody out there has firsthand knowledge that could put us on the right track to put this person in jail. And they need to step up and do the right thing.”
In 2019, Rachel’s father, Daniel Hurley, passed away unexpectedly, not knowing who murdered his daughter. A detective stated that he was “sorry that I couldn’t solve his daughter’s murder before he died.”
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Rachel Hurley is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 1-800-458-TIPS (8477).
A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.