Paulette Smith says she never lost hope even though it had been 17 years since her oldest child, Anjeanette Maldonado, was murdered in Kensington on her way home from school.
At approximately 2:45 a.m. on October 2, 1996, police responded to the 1700 block of Hope Street.
The 17-year-old honor student at the Franklin Learning Center was raped, strangled, and left inside a crack house near the Market-Frankford El she had taken back to the neighborhood where her family, including a younger brother and sister, lived at the time.
The crime was never solved.
She was an ambitious child, already working two jobs and planning for college.
"She had a lot going for her, she had a lot of plans," Smith said.
Police have arrested 46-year-old Rafael Crespo and charged him with the crimes.
Crespo has been serving time in the Florida prison system since 2003 for raping his stepdaughter.
Last May, Philadelphia's Cold Case Unit got a DNA match from evidence taken at the crime scene. The match came from the FBI's combined DNA index system.
"It shows people that regardless of what they think, these cases are not lost, they're not put on hold; they're constantly investigated, evaluated," Philadelphia Police Lt. Mark Deegan said.
"I don't think there's any way of getting justice, because nothing I can do can bring her back," Smith said.
Last spring, detectives went to the Florida State Penitentiary in Bowling Green to interview Crespo.
Between the DNA match and statements he made to police, they are confident they finally have their man.
Over the weekend, detectives returned Crespo to Philadelphia to face justice.
"I was very glad, grateful," Smith said.
Crespo's first court appearance in Philadelphia is scheduled for April 17th .