RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Twenty-four years ago, a Navy veteran was found dead near the James River in Richmond. His family is still searching for answers.

Henry “Eddie” Northington, 39, was found dead on March 1, 1999. His head was found sitting on the James River Park footbridge. His body was found in the water, a half-mile away in the river near railroad-track drainage tunnels.

Northington’s sister, Donna Russell, told 8News that the past 24 years have been filled with pain and heartache. She said that getting answers would provide the family with much-needed closure.

“It’s kind of like you feel something. I guess it’s because of the water and knowing he was around here,” Russell said. “You never forget, you never get over it and we are always hoping for some answers.”

Russell said she will never forget the day she learned of her brother’s death.

“I was watching TV and I saw them pull a body out of the water and I had been searching for my brother two weeks before that,” she said. “I had a horrific dream the night before and I woke up with my whole shirt wet because I heard Eddie crying for me.”

Northington was the oldest of four children. According to Russell, he was the protector of the family.

“Eddie was a good guy to me, he was a good big brother, he was a pain in the butt,” she joked.

Detectives have not yet found the person — or persons — responsible for Northington’s death. However, Russell says her family suspects it could have been a hate crime because of his sexuality.

“I would say it is a hate crime of some sort. Who does that? You have to have anger from something,” Russell said. “This many years and still nothing. And for something like that to happen — a brutal crime — it had to have, to me, evidence somewhere unless they killed him in the water and then took his head elsewhere.”

Russell and the rest of Northington’s loved ones are now hoping to finally get some closure.

“It’ll make me feel like somebody cared enough to find out what happened to him, that he knows we loved him enough that we didn’t give up,” she said.

The Reopen the Case Foundation has continued to raise awareness to this case. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Richmond Police Detective Sgt. George Wade at 804-646-0606.