Todd Blumhorst , an advocate with Homicide Survivors who specialized in unsolved cases, died Sunday. He was 39.

Blumhorst, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, had been involved with the organization since moving to Tucson in 2001. He first began attending support groups for families of murder victims and then began volunteering with the organization.

In 2011, he became the first cold-case advocate for the organization, according to Star archives.

His commitment to helping families whose loved ones’ cases had gone cold stemmed from personal experience.

In September 1990, Blumhorst’s 21-year-old sister, Veronica, disappeared from the driveway of the family home in Mendota, Ill. She is presumed dead.

“I think that gave him insight to know what to say to our families that have these cases that are unsolved,” said Carol Gaxiola, director of Homicide Survivors. She said Blumhorst had the “compassion that comes from living this experience.”

Blumhorst, who was 16 at the time of his sister’s disappearance, never gave up searching for her and was active in helping organize a memorial and cadaver searches for her body.

“He was never gonna give up, and I think that’s one of the things that he expressed that tore his life apart, he kept saying ‘I’m not done here, I haven’t found her,’” Cyra Trujillo, one of Blumhorst’s colleagues, said.

In July, Blumhorst was diagnosed with a rare genetic cancer that started in his lung and spread throughout his body, making him paraplegic.

On Tuesday, he was told the cancer was terminal, Trujillo said.

Blumhorst was dedicated to doing whatever he could to make sure families knew that their loved ones’ cases weren’t forgotten, and to many of those he helped he became like a son, Trujillo said.

“Todd really, really was a unique soul to have the strength that he did and to use that as his ‘ammo’ he would say and to use it to help others keep moving forward,” Trujillo said.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at or 573-4224.