It seems, while Air Force Staff Sergeant Nicole Dudley was protecting her country overseas, nobody was protecting her family at home in Delaware.
"I was horrified," Dudley told Action News. "I was in shock."
The sudden brutal death of 21-month old Evan Dudley in 2012 has his mother still reliving her nightmare and waiting for answers from the homicide probe.
She was deployed to the Middle East in May 2012. With no father involved in the boy's life, Sgt. Dudley had to leave him with civilian god parents as his primary caregivers. An Air Force couple, also stationed at Dover Air Force Base, agreed to help out. That couple was Aubrey Corbett and her husband, Staff Sgt. Justin Corbett. The Air Force approved the plan.
"Our kids played together all the time," Dudley told Action News. "We'd go to the swimming pool, go to church."
By all accounts, only Staff Sgt. Corbett was at home when Evan was fatally injured. Corbett told authorities the boy fell down a flight of carpeted stairs.
However, the medical examiner concluded Evan died of blunt force trauma to the head and was the victim of homicide.
When she arrived at the hospital after the long trip from Qatar, the attending physician called Dudley aside and told her Corbett's story was not credible.
"He just told me what the injuries were and said they don't match the story," Dudley told Action News. "That the severity of his injuries would never be able to match up to the story."
The case is in the hands of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. After roughly a year and no arrests, nearly 11,000 supporters have signed an online petition on her behalf. She says she has been largely ignored by the prosecutors. The spokesman for Delaware's Attorney General says this homicide investigation is ongoing and active, but so far no timetable is set for when the probe of Evan Dudley's death will be completed.
"I don't want them to rush it. Irregardless of how much pain it causes me, I know that I want them to do the right thing for him," Dudley said.