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Cold Case Files: A brutal slaying in a violent time

Police try to piece together death of Gainesville woman 15 years later

POSTED: August 16, 2010 12:02 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Gainesville Police Detective Gordon Hendry looks over to the area of Flat Creek as it runs under Davis Street where the body of Tina Buffington Andrews was found on Feb. 16, 1995.

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There is a two-week gap in Tina Buffington Andrews’ final days that police want to fill.

Andrews, a 33-year-old single mother with children ages 6 and 7 at the time of her death, vanished on Feb. 3, 1995. Her mother, Cassie, filed a missing person report, but Tina had disappeared before, only to later arrive safely home at her Melrose apartment on Davis Street. This time she would not return.

On Feb. 16, a cold, damp and foggy morning, Andrews’ body was found in a surging Flat Creek, caught on a tree limb a few hundred yards from the public housing complex. She had been stabbed repeatedly and thrown into the creek while she was still alive.

She died from a combination of the stab wounds and drowning.

In the 15 years since, the appearance of the crime scene has changed dramatically, with brush and trees grown up around the creek and industrial development beside it. But police haven’t let go of the cold case.

Gainesville Police Investigator Gordon Hendry said though Andrews’ body had signs of decomposition, police don’t think she was in the creek for the full 13 days since her disappearance. Finding out where she went and who she was with during that time would be a key to solving her murder, Hendry said.

“A lot of people knew her, and during that time period she was missing, people must have seen her,” Hendry said. “We would like people to come forward and tell us what they know. Did she have a problem with anyone? Did she owe anyone money?”

The early to mid-1990s was a violent time in Gainesville’s history. There were eight murders in 1995, and nine murders the previous year. In recent years, Gainesville and Hall County have averaged two or three murders a year.

The area where Andrews’ body was found was particularly crime-ridden in the mid-1990s.

“There was a lot of vice-type crimes going on at that time, a lot of foot traffic,” Hendry said.

Police chased down a number of leads and interviewed several possible suspects, but nothing panned out. A $2,000 reward for information authorized by then-Gov. Zell Miller remains available today.

“She was well-liked, a lot of people knew her,” Hendry said. “Someone must know what happened to her.”



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