Julie Monson was just 18 at the time of her murder.
She was bright and attractive, and had a close-knit group of friends. She had just started the fall semester at Cayuga Community College.
In the early-morning hours of Sept. 27, 1981, she left her friends at a Grant Avenue bar, and drove her parents’ new red Chevette up Prospect Street. She’d been out that night with friends, drinking beer they’d purchased from Wegmans in the car, and visiting a couple of local nightspots. She ended the evening at The Stockade.
Witnesses last saw her on Prospect Street, where she pulled over to talk to a man driving another car — perhaps a green Cordoba. The man looked under her car briefly. They talked a little while longer, then got into his car and drove away.
Her parents reported her missing the following day, and a manhunt ensued. Her body wouldn’t be found until 18 months later, when a college student collecting soil samples stumbled across her at the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.
Monson had briefly dated Thomas Bianco in high school. Friends say their relationship began on a class trip, where the two were seen holding hands. But it ended soon afterward.
Friends said Julie also had a bit of a wild side. Donna Festa told police Julie smoked marijuana, and had tried speed the week before her disappearance. She also said, according to the police reports, that Julie had “a thing for down and outers (hippie type fellows).”
Monson’s disappearance and murder gripped the Auburn community. For more than 30 years, her family, friends and the community at large have debated the case, advocated for more intense investigation and prayed that someday her killer would be brought to justice.