NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The family of Diane Drake gathered at Easton’s Beach Tuesday to mark the anniversary of her death more than four decades ago.

The 19-year-old was walking to work in March 1980 when she vanished. Investigators believe she may have been hitchhiking.

Drake’s body was found naked and battered in the waters off of Easton’s Beach the next day. An autopsy later revealed she had been strangled.

Bob Drake, Diane’s brother, has been fighting to keep her memory alive ever since. He and Diane’s other siblings stand vigil at Easton’s Beach each year to ensure their sister isn’t forgotten.

“Nobody deserves to be forgotten,” Bob Drake said. “We never thought something like this would happen to us.”

Bob tells 12 News that he’s received little help from detectives throughout the years, adding that the department admitted defeat early on in the investigation.

“Her case went cold right away,” he said. “I watched my parents wait for information and it destroyed them.”

Prior to her death, Bob said his sister was studying social justice at Roger Williams University. He described her as “a woman of character.”

“The narrative right now is that she was the naked body found on Easton’s Beach,” Bob said. “That’s not who she was. She was a life that mattered.”

While Bob is unsure whether his family will ever have closure, he will continue to seek justice for his sister.

“My sister Diane was a beautiful person,” he said. “She would have been the first person to come to me and ask me to forgive whoever did it. That was the kind of person she was.”

Bob hopes to memorialize his sister at Easton’s Beach, though he acknowledged that the name is too iconic to ever change. He suggested possibly tweaking the name of the beach to include his sister’s name, or revitalizing the carousel and painting a mural in her memory.

“I want to memorialize her in the same fervor as [the community] forgot her,” he said.

Bob said his siblings are also considering starting a foundation in their sister’s name, which would provide safe havens for victims of domestic violence.

“She would want to help people that are helpless and voiceless,” he said.

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