Darlene Jenkins spent years believing her son Tony would someday walk through the door of her South San Jose home.

Even after authorities said his severed legs were found in a Central Valley canal nine years ago, Jenkins held out hope that they were wrong.

Then last summer, police recovered the rest of her son's remains in a remote area of Stanislaus County. Jenkins could no longer escape the horrible truth: Her 27-year-old son had been killed.

Now Darlene Jenkins' only wish is to see those responsible put behind bars.

"Before I die, I'd like to see them apprehend these guys who tortured and killed my son," said Jenkins, who suffers from diabetes and congestive heart failure and has been hospitalized numerous times the past few years.

After an autopsy last summer concluded Tony Jenkins died a "horrific death," police reopened the case, which had gone cold after hundreds of hours of investigation into his disappearance.

But detectives won't say much about the case.

"We're hoping that someone who has a conscience will come forward," Spears said.

The last time Darlene Jenkins saw her son was Dec. 29, 2001. Tony told his mom he'd be back in about an hour and walked out of her Santa Teresa neighborhood home. He hopped into a friend's car and drove away.

In April, 2002, authorities found bones belonging to a large adult man in the Mendota aqueduct. A DNA match confirmed the remains to be of Jenkins.

Despite the discovery, Darlene Jenkins held out hope that authorities somehow had made a mistake, and her son was still alive. It wasn't until last summer when she received a visit from an official with the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office that Jenkins accepted the terrible truth.

"I thought she was going to say he was alive," Jenkins said of the visit last summer. Instead, "she told us they found the rest of Tony."

At 6 feet 2 inches and 280 pounds, Tony Jenkins may have been an imposing presence but Darlene Jenkins said her son was more like a teddy bear. Jenkins said Tony helped take care of her when her diabetes acted up and was her rock after the death of her husband in 1998.

Tony Jenkins would often accompany his mom to family functions or go shopping at the mall after his father's death.

"He was such a wonderful boy to me," Darlene Jenkins said.

Tony Jenkins played football as a student at Santa Teresa High School and was a 49ers fan. Darlene Jenkins said her son covered the walls of his room with red and gold and hung the team's memorabilia throughout the house.

She has kept her son's bedroom mostly untouched since his disappearance.

"He was quite popular," Darlene Jenkins said. "He had a million friends. He was friendly to everyone."

Jenkins has been dealing with health issues in the past few years and relied on bottled oxygen throughout the day. She still wakes up every night thinking about her son.

"I don't want to die until I know what happened to my Tony," she said.

Anyone with information about the death of Tony Jenkins is asked to call the San Jose Police Department's Homicide Unit at 408-277-5283. Anyone wishing to provide information anonymously can call Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-STOP (7867) or go to www.svcrimestoppers.org.