LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The lead detective on one of Little Rock’s highest-profile unsolved mysteries is resigning from the city’s police force.

Ebby Steppach’s mother, Laurie Jernigan, says Little Rock Police Department Cold Case Detective Tommy Hudson is resigning.

“Without Tommy we wouldn’t have the investigation, we wouldn’t have a case,” Jernigan said. “She would just be in a file somewhere.”

Hudson’s exit comes as other veteran Little Rock officers are also leaving the force, though Jernigan noted he was not leaving law enforcement or central Arkansas.

“His reasons for leaving were completely valid. He’s going to North Little Rock and they need him,” she said.

Hudson first retired in 2017 and returned a few months later to work part-time as a cold case detective. Jernigan credits Hudson for finding her daughter’s body in a drainage pipe in 2018, feet away from where she originally disappeared three years earlier.

“He came in and saved the day on Ebby’s case,” she said.

Hudson revealed in a 2018 interview with FOX 16 News that before the case was assigned to him, critical errors were made by LRPD.

“When I got the case, there were things that weren’t done that should’ve been done on the front end,” Hudson said in 2018.

He explained that things like interviewing key witnesses, checking surveillance footage at a nearby Walmart and a social media search had not been done.

“We always look at that. Why it wasn’t done at the time,” Hudson said in 2018, “I can’t answer that. I can tell you it’s been done now.”

Steppach’s family members have said the case is being investigated as a homicide and pray the next detective is as good as Hudson.

“My faith is so strong and I trust that God will bring answers, Jernigan said.

Little Rock police declined an on-camera interview but sent the following statement:

“The Little Rock Police Department is committed to work collectively to resolve all cold cases; more specifically the Ebby Steppach case. Our cold case unit is comprised of seasoned investigators who have retired as active members of the Little Rock Police Department. Together, they will continue to work on any new developments in this case.”

Jernigan said she should know next week who the new lead detective will be on her daughter’s case.