SHAMOKIN, Pa. — The death of Matthew Hoy has never been officially called a homicide, but his family and the police believe it is.
It happened on May 7, 1994, in the Bunker Hill section of Coal Township, Northumberland County.
Coal Township Police Patrolman David Sage was one of the first called to the scene.
He's still on the force and still on the case.
"We've had, unfortunately, other homicides in the area. I've worked on just about all of them at one time or another," Sage said.
But Hoy's case will always stand out.
"I was called in, it was a Saturday, and we went up to the Bunker Hill area where the burned car and the remains were found," Sage recalled.
Hoy, 21, was found in his burned-out car.
The secluded spot behind the community ball fields was a popular place to party back then. Today, it's been taken over by ATV trails.
There we met Cory Thompson of Shamokin. He was only 8 when Hoy died and has never forgotten it.
"I'm glad to bring you a little closer and hopefully shed some light on what happened here and closure to the family," Thompson said.
Police learned that Hoy had been back in the woods and was last seen around 2:30 a.m. A few hours later, a hunter spotted the smoke coming from Hoy's burning car. His body was in the passenger seat, and so burned that investigators couldn't tell if he had been injured before the fire.
Ptlm. Sage told Action 16 they followed every lead, which caused them to call on every local department for help, along with federal agencies and state police from as far away as Nebraska and California.
"It's not something we did ourselves or tried to do ourselves because we're a local police department. We do the best we can, and if we need help, we're not afraid to ask," he said.
Coal Township Police have received a tip nearly every year since Hoy's death, but none has led to a suspect.
Sage says despite their many interviews, someone out there still has the missing piece of the puzzle.
"I wish that if some people know things but they're hesitant to tell us, that they would come in and tell us. I don't know if people like that exist or not," he added.
And until that missing piece comes forward, there's only so much police can do to close the case.
"There's only one person I think is actually going to help us do that," Sage said. "And every time you go to church, you're in his house."