Search continues for missing child 19 years after mom found murdered

STRASBURG, Va. -- Investigators with the Virginia State Police are hoping to solve a mystery that has haunted the family and friends of a young mother killed in her home nearly 20 years ago.

This summer, new age progression photos were released of Allyson Dalton. Police believe she was taken from her mother's home just after Sylena Jo Dalton was stabbed to death on July 27, 1998.

Allyson would be 19 years old. She was only 10 months when she disappeared from her mother's apartment on S. Charles Street in Strasburg, Virginia, according to WDCW. This is the second time investigators have released a photo of what she may look like, the first being when she was 13 years old.

“Since the beginning of this case 19 years ago, it has been a challenging one because of the complexities of it involving both a homicide and an infant disappearing without a trace,” said Capt. Gary Wilson, Commander of the VSP BCI Culpeper Field Office. “We do believe little Allyson was abducted by whoever murdered her mother. We are hopeful that someone will feel safe enough to come forward now, after all these years, and help bring a murderer and kidnapper to justice.”

Jenifer Parker was a close friend of Sylena's who only got to hold Allyson once. She believes the time has long passed for answers into her friend's murder.

"Sylena deserves it," said Parker. "Sylena deserves to rest in peace, her family deserves for someone to be caught so they can have peace of mind and finally know what happened."

Parker believes investigators should start over and talk to everyone who was around Sylena in the days before she was killed. Dalton was found stabbed to death on the couch of her apartment. Investigators discovered baby bottles missing and never found Allyson.

Virginia State Police special agents working the case don't classify the investigation as a cold case. The photos released continue to generate leads but nothing that has led to an arrest.

Parker also continues to search. She said every few days she's checking websites with details about the case hoping that someone will leave a message that could become a clue into Sylena's death and Allyson's disappearance.

"I fully believe Allyson and my daughter would be the best of friends," said Parker.

Allyson was born with brown hair and blue eyes. According to Virginia State Police, Allyson’s biological father was not living with her and her mother at the time of the murder-abduction. He has cooperated with investigators over the years.

"I'll always tell the people who call they may say, 'I know this may be nothing and I'm sorry to bother you' and my response is always you're not bothering me you're actually helping us and the family because you care enough to call," said Special Agent Richard Hankins.

Anyone with information about Sylena Jo Dalton’s murder, Allyson’s disappearance, and/or recognizes the age progression photo of what Allyson might look like now as a 19-year-old is encouraged to call the State Police toll-free at 1-888-300-0156 or dialing #77 on a cell phone or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov.