PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – The absence of a body in the disappearance of Kristin Smart — a crucial detail in the case — is drawing comparisons to another high-profile murder that rocked Northern California: Christie Wilson’s.

Debbie Boyd spent 15 years without knowing where her daughter’s killer hid her body. Investigators spent more than a decade searching for 27-year-old Christie Wilson.

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“It’s a tremendously difficult journey. There are not words that can describe what it’s like,” said Debbie Boyd.

It’s an experience she shares with the family of Kristin Smart nearly 400 miles away in San Louis Obispo.

“Without the body, there is a whole other level of torment that families go through not to be able to have a proper burial, be able to grieve,” Boyd said.

Wilson went missing in Placer County in 2005; it wasn’t until last year that her body was found. That didn’t stop Placer County prosecutors from convicting her killer, though. The county’s District Attorney Morgan Gire believes the same can happen for Smart’s family with the recent arrests.

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“No-body homicides are traditionally known as more difficult; they are not impossible,” said Gire.

Wilson’s case made history in Placer County as the first conviction for the county, without finding the victim’s body. Gire explained these types of homicides typically take longer to solve and depend on dedicated detectives, analyzing the victim’s life, and proving foul play.

“The cause of death oftentimes leads to the determination of a perpetrator. If you don’t have that, it means that investigators have to be a little more creative, they have to rely on other areas of investigation than traditional forensic evidence that may be present,” he said.

Boyd now works with others families in similar situations to help them get the same closure.

“Hope is truly, truly important…to just never give up; and when it feels like you have hit the wall, try one more time and leverage every opportunity that you can think of,” said Boyd.

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According to Gire, county agencies have been in touch with San Luis Obispo County and are offering support and any advice they’ve learned from Wilson’s case.