SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- On November 9, 1998, 16-year-old Ashley Turniak was found dead on Interstate 91 in Longmeadow.
To this day, her case remains unsolved.
Western Mass News got answers on what unfolded that November 9 morning on the 22nd anniversary of her death from those who knew Ashley.
Turniak was like any other teenager in Agawam. She hung out with her friends, spent her days learning at Agawam High School and was well-liked by all those who knew her.
“She had a great personality. Nice kid, really nice,” said Paul Cavallo, her assistant principal.
But on November 9, 1998, Ashley left school and never returned home.
One of the last people to see her that day was Cavallo.
“On that particular day, she came in and just stopped by to say hello and so forth,” he said.
Her first class started at 7:25 that morning, but less than an hour later around 8 a.m., she was found dead on Interstate 91 in Longmeadow near the Connecticut state line.
Western Mass News asked her mother, Annette Turniak, if she noticed anything weird about her behavior or if she was jittery.
“No, no nothing like that at all,” she said.
Annette said that day she felt like something was wrong, and when she came home from work and Ashley wasn't there, the worst thoughts came to her mind.
“Something's wrong,” she said. “Where is she, you know, I didn't know where she was.”
Then she and her friends watched the evening news listening to reports that a young girl was found dead on 91 -- a girl with a Mickey Mouse watch -- something Annette knew her daughter had.
“That's how I found out,” her mother said.
The 16-year-old went out the passenger side window of a car driving on the southbound side of the highway before dying from impacting the pavement.
“Five people identified what kind of car it was,” Annette said.
That vehicle was identified as a tan mid-sized vehicle potentially a late 80's Ford Tempo.
“Whoever was in that car wasn't a very nice person, that's for sure,” she said.
Later that same day, Ashley's backpack turned up on Woodlawn Avenue in Enfield, not far from the highway exit. Cavallo remembers Ashley wearing it that morning.
“She did have her bookbag with her, I remember that,” he said.
That backpack is how police identified her body. The driver dumped the bag, and her mom remembers the phone call.
“At around 5:00, I get a call from the Connecticut police that that's what happened and they say we found Ashley's bookbag and her coat,” she said.
One of the main issues for investigators was a lack of witnesses.
“It's probably the largest single-story high school in the state,” Agawam Mayor William Sapelli said.
Western Mass News sat down with Sapelli who said the school has roughly 80 doors and classroom windows don't have a view of the main parking lot to see Ashley leave.
“That end of the building is the cafeteria or the gymnasium, which don't have windows and or people sitting in them where they can look out the window,” he said.
One witness on the highway did give a description of the driver to police but was too fearful to come forward.
“It was a male, olive color face. She saw his face and she didn't want to come forward because she was afraid,” Annette said.
Questions still linger as the driver remains unidentified of what happened to Ashley, if she was pushed out of the car or if she jumped trying to get away.
“Knowing Ashley, she would not have got into the car unless she knew the people,” Cavallo said.
“Something happened,” the mother said. “It's hard to prove.”
Western Mass News reached out to the Hampden County District Attorney multiple times, but they would not comment on this case.
Anyone with information on what happened or who may be involved is asked to call the State Police Detective Unit at 413-505-5993.