Twenty-nine years after her murder at age 13, Amanda Goodman’s surviving family members are no longer in Brownwood.
Judy Shank isn’t related to the Goodman family, but she describes Amanda, who lived in Brownwood with her mother, stepfather and two brothers, as her cousin. Shank was 8 when Goodman was shot and killed on May 16, 1989. Goodman’s murder remains unsolved.
Shank, 37, is a cosmetologist in Brownwood. She has little hope that the murder will ever be solved, but she doesn’t want the community to forget Goodman. She worries that will happen.
“I don’t think it will ever be solved, but I can’t just give up,” Shank said.
Sunday — Mother’s Day — would have been Goodman’s 42nd birthday.
Shank said when her friend Michelle McDaniel called her the morning of May 14, 2016 to tell her that McDaniel’s daughter, Chantay Blankinship, was missing, Shank had a bad feeling.
Blankinship was found murdered, and when months — then a year, then 18 months — passed with no arrest, “there wasn’t a hope in me” Blankinship’s murder would be solved, Shank said. She could relate to the anguish of the young woman’s family.
“It hit me so hard,” Shank said.
After sheriff’s deputies arrested a suspect last November, McDaniel called Shank and exclaimed “we got him, we got him.”
“Are you kidding me?” Shank recalled her conversation with McDaniel. “It lifted my spirits so much,” Shank said. “I am so, so, so happy.”
Goodman was last seen alive walking home from Brownwood Middle School, where she was in the seventh grade. A passerby found her body just off Indian Creek Road, about 10 miles south of Brownwood. She had been shot once in the head.
Then-Texas Ranger Bobby Grubbs and representatives of other agencies including the Brownwood Police Department and Brown County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the murder. In a 2009 interview, Grubbs — who had retired as a Ranger and was elected Brown County sheriff — said he thinks Goodman got into a vehicle with someone she knew and trusted. Grubbs believed Goodman was likely getting out of the vehicle when she was shot.
The bullet entered near her left earlobe and exited the back of her head. Grubbs said it appeared her killer had laid her body out deliberately, suggesting it was someone who had cared for her. Her purse and a school notebook were nearby.
Neither the bullet nor the gun were found. Grubbs believes she was shot with a handgun, but said that’s not known for certain.
Investigators interviewed numerous people, including family members and members of her now-disbanded church, a Pentecostal congregation called the Church of Brownwood. Investigators took hard looks at people they believed were suspects, but nothing panned out, Grubbs said.
Grubbs had a suspicion as to who murdered the girl, even though that person — a man — passed a polygraph. “I don’t have the facts to back up my suspicion,” Grubbs said. His suspicion is based on the man’s “close connections to the victim and his past history,” Grubbs said in the 2009 interview.
Shank has heard the same theory — and others. “Throughout the years I’ve heard so many stories, I just don’t know any more,” Shank said. “(People) say ‘oh I know what happened,’ and they’ve got their story to tell.”
Shank said she thinks about Goodman every day. “Until the day I die I will still be praying the case is solved,” she said.