Crime

100 leads followed, 50 vehicles searched. Who hit Shelby Luciano and left her to die?

Editor's note: This story was originally published one year after Shelby Luciano's death in 2016.

One year after police found 23-year-old Shelby Luciano dead in a ditch, police are still searching for a suspect in her hit-and-run death, said Waveland Police Chief David Allen.

Luciano's body was found on the East side of Spruce Street when a tennis shoe caught a motorist's eye around 6:30 a.m. on June 18, 2015.

Allen said Luciano was struck from behind by an unknown vehicle.

"The evidence at the scene and corresponding injuries to Shelby were consistent with a vehicle hitting her," Allen said, adding that many rumors circulated after Luciano's death of her being beaten elsewhere and "dumped" on Spruce Street.

Allen said Luciano's cell phone records along with the injuries she sustained don't support those rumors.

"She was left here, to die, alone," said Rose Luciano, Shelby's mother, at a press conference Friday, alongside Waveland Police Chief David Allen.

It's hard for Rose Luciano to go back to the spot where her daughter's body was found, but she wants answers — and justice.

No suspect yet

Allen said police have followed almost 100 leads and have inspected more than 50 vehicles, some of them in surrounding states, and have not yet determined who was driving the vehicle that hit Luciano.

"It's very possible that the vehicle wasn't even from this area and the driver may have returned home to another county or even another state where they had the damage repaired," Allen said. "The unknown vehicle will have had damage to the passenger side headlight assembly, where it would need to be replaced or repaired, with the possibility of further damage to the surrounding area of the vehicle."

Allen said Luciano was walking along the area of Waveland Avenue near Spruce Street on the night before the incident. She had been visiting friends' homes on foot.

He said that police believe, based on Luciano's phone calls and text messages, the accident occurred just after 1 a.m. on June 18.

In July 2015, Luciano's family offered a $10,000 reward for information about her death.

Boyfriend cleared

Luciano's boyfriend, Jason Duffy, was often suggested to police as the person who killed her, Allen said, but he was eliminated as a suspect early in the investigation based on several factors, including interviews and cell phone information.

Duffy's home was in a neighborhood between Waveland Avenue and Sycamore Street, close to where Luciano was struck.

Duffy, 42, was shot several times in the head inside of his home in the 900 block of Dicks Street on November 29, 2015. Police received a call about the shooting around 4:15 a.m. Officers found Duffy inside of his home, and he was transported to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, where he later died.

Duffy's death was the city's first murder in two years.

Allen said anyone with information regarding Luciano's death should call the Waveland Police Department at 467-3669, or Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898.

"We believe that someone out there knows who hit Shelby and it's time to bring peace to her and closure to her family and friends," Allen said.

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