Thanksgiving is tomorrow, a time to look at your life and see what all you have to be thankful for.

I have a beautiful, smart, strong, curious 20-month-old baby girl at home who is learning each and every day and isn’t afraid of anything.

I’m so grateful that I was chosen to be her mama and to have her by my side.

I’m also grateful for my parents, my sister and my brother and my wonderful friends who have been a great support system for the both of us.

I know I can call on all of them for anything.

But, not every family is as lucky.

Some, like Shawna Krohn and Wynona Childress, sisters of the late Emma Compton Layne, will have sadness in their heart on this holiday as hunters found their sister’s remains two years ago on Nov. 22, 2017. This was five months after she had first gone missing.

What started as a search for a missing person with her family and friends holding out hope turned into a murder investigation on that day.

A cause of death — homicidal violence to include traumatic neck injury, and the manner being homicide — was not released until June of this year.

To this day, an arrest has not been made in their sister’s case.

Even still, Shawna’s and Wynona’s efforts to bring their sister justice have not ceased.

Recently, Shawna told me, “I know somebody knows other than the murderer, and it’s past time to come forward. I’m not going to quit fighting or doing things to keep Emma in the spotlight, so people don’t forget that she was brutally murdered for no reason. And there is still a murderer walking free, standing beside you at the grocery store, gas pump or maybe sitting beside you having lunch. You all never know.”

As part of their efforts, the sisters recently unveiled a billboard on Highway 501 near Cody with the idea that Emma’s killer may have to drive by it daily, but it has recently been replaced.

Childress’ daughter also started a GoFundMe to help raise funds towards a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

They’re a strong, determined family who have been nothing but cooperative with the media.

I never met their sister, Emma, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about her — from her contagious smile to her good-hearted nature that greeted everyone who came into her Cody store.

Emma and Shawna share a birthday on March 6, just 10 days before my daughter was born.

I couldn’t help but think about Emma and her family as my pregnancy came towards its end.

Both Wynona and Shawna have met my daughter and talked about how cute and precious she is.

They always tell me to go home and hug my parents, siblings and my precious little girl.

They also lost their mother the year they lost Emma.

Other families sit with grief in their heart on the holidays as they also are missing family members who have gone on, but I can’t help but think about this particular family during this time.

I too hope that one day an arrest will be made, and I hope they are able to cling to the love amongst each other during the holidays and get through it the best they know how.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at