Ashley Eiffert was seven months pregnant when she drove to the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans to pick up baby clothes from a woman who had recently lost a child.
She was never seen alive again.
Now, 20 years to the day after she disappeared, Eiffert’s family is renewing its call for police to investigate the case, claiming Louisiana investigators failed to respond quickly and later botched the probe into the expectant mother’s whereabouts.
“Ashley’s baby would be 20 years old if alive today,” Yvonne Eiffert, the woman’s mother, told Fox News.
“The police have done absolutely nothing to find my daughter,” claimed Eiffert, “and no one has been brought to justice.”
She continued, “I’m up against a wall.”
On Jan. 9, 2003, Eiffert, then 19, drove her 1992 silver Ford Mustang to the home of a woman she met at a doctor’s office during a recent prenatal visit. The woman, identified as Nicole Johnson, told Eiffert she recently had lost a child and was looking to donate baby furniture and clothes, according to Eiffert’s family.
Johnson, “told us that when Ashley tried to leave, her car wouldn’t start,” Yvonne Eiffert said.
Eiffert said Johnson claimed the teenager then called her boyfriend, Joe Hill, and that the two were arguing on the phone. Johnson told the family that she last saw Ashley crossing the street on her way to a Shell gas station.
Eiffert claimed that investigators did not review the surveillance camera from the gas station “until it was too late.”
She went on, “By the time they looked at it, the tape had been erased.”
According to the family, Johnson’s recollection of events has never been corroborated.
“It’s the only story we have, and it’s from a complete stranger,” said Madeline Ludwick, Eiffert’s cousin.
A spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department did not respond to an inquiry from Fox News. Neither Johnson nor Hill could be reached for comment.
According to a 2022 study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S.
Researchers found that women in the U.S. who are pregnant or who have recently given birth are more likely to be murdered than to die from obstetric causes – a statistic that has not changed over the last 20 years. A 2004 study by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported that domestic violence killed more pregnant women each year than any other cause.
For Eiffert’s family, the anguish over her disappearance is as painful now as it was 20 years ago.
“I miss her energy more than anything. She was a joy to be around,” Ludwick said of Eiffert, who loved dancing, playing softball and marching in Mardi Gras parades.
“Whoever did this took that all away from us,” Ludwick said.