In March 2000, 24-year-old college student Leah Roberts left home. She went on a trip by car and did not tell anyone about it. She took her personal belongings and a cat with her. On March 18, her jeep was found at the entrance to the highway in the Watcom district, writes Wikipedia... There was no girl or cat in it.
Leah Toby Roberts was born in 1976, the youngest of three children in a family in the suburbs of Durham, North Carolina. When she was seventeen, her father was diagnosed with chronic lung disease. This put a heavy financial burden on the family as Roberts began her studies at the University of North Carolina that same year.
When the girl was twenty, she was in her sophomore year of college. During this time, Leah's mother died suddenly of heart disease.
In the fall of 1998, the girl returned to school after a short break, but soon got into a serious car accident, as a result of which she had a punctured lung and a broken femur. Roberts later told her sister Kara that immediately after the accident, when she saw the huge truck she drove into, she was sure she would die and felt “reborn” after she recovered. Leah took a leave of absence from college and decided that she would enjoy life to the fullest.
Having never completed her degree in Spanish and Anthropology, Roberts dropped out shortly before graduating from college.
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Instead, she learned to play the guitar, took up photography and adopted a kitten, whom she named Bea. Leah began hanging out at local coffee shops, writing poems about the meaning of life in her diaries, and making new friends.
The beginning of the fateful journey
On the morning of March 9, 2000, Leah spoke on the phone with her sister about her future plans. She didn't say anything specific, but Kara recalls how the conversation ended with the fact that they should see each other soon. Later, at noon, Leah agreed the next day with Kara to look after the children of their mutual friend.
The roommate went to work. When she returned later, she noticed that the white 1993 Jeep Cherokee was not at home, as was Leah herself. The girl was not bothered, since Leah was windy. Living on money from the maternal inheritance, she could not work and walk as long as she wanted. However, the next day Leah did not come to look after the children and she did not return to spend the night. By the end of the day on March 11, friends and family were already calling the house trying to find her. On Monday, March 13, Kara reported the disappearance to the Durham police.
On March 14, close girls ransacked her home: a significant part of Leah's clothes disappeared, which indicates a planned long absence. Leah left - she took the cat and left a strange note: “I'm not suicidal. On the contrary, ”she wrote. Along with the note, the girl left some money, about a month of her share of the rent, and added that she would be back soon. The note was illustrated with a Cheshire Cat grin.
Since Kara still had power of attorney for Leah's bank accounts, she was able to view her sister's financial statements. Kara discovered that Leah had withdrawn several thousand dollars on the afternoon of March 9 and then used her debit card to pay for a motel room near Memphis, Tennessee.
Later deals were for the purchase of gasoline or food. Their location suggested that Leah was driving west on Interstate 40 and then north on Interstate 5 and reached the western end of I-40 in California. After buying gasoline shortly after midnight on March 13 in Brooks, Oregon, all activity on Leah's accounts ceased.
To understand why her sister is heading to the Pacific Northwest, Kara and Leah's friend Susie Smith went to a cafe in Durham that Leah often visited.
There they found Jeannine Quiller, with whom Leah previously, as many knew, discussed the work of the writer Kerouac. The two were particularly impressed by Kerouac's 1958 novel Dharma Drivers, a sequel to the better-known On the Road. The book describes travel and the beauty of nature.
It turned out that Leah expressed an interest in seeing these places for herself. With relief, Kara realized her sister's likely target. There was no new activity in Leah's accounts, but Kara had no reason to believe that anything bad had happened.
Leah's car detection
Kara expected Leah to call her on March 18 and congratulate her on her 26th birthday. Instead, on the same day, she received a note from the Durham County Sheriff's Office saying that Kara should call the Whatcomb County Sheriff's Office in Bellingham, Washington.
On March 18, 2000, runners along a road near Mount Baker Highway in Watcom, Washington, reported seeing a crashed car near Canyon Creek.
Arriving at the scene, the deputy sheriff in charge of the investigation found a 1993 white Jeep Cherokee with North Carolina license plates.
Along the way the car passed through the trees and the extent of damage to the car and trees, Washington State Patrol investigators determined that the jeep was traveling at nearly 40 mph (64 km / h) as it pulled off the road and downhill ... The contents of the car indicated the possibility of multiple rollovers. There was no blood or other signs of passenger injury, such as glass splinters or seat belt sprains.
There was an impression that no one was inside the jeep when it crashed, so law enforcement officers suggested that the accident could have been staged or planned.
However, blankets were hung on the windows from the inside, which suggests that it was used as a shelter. Leah's passport, checkbook, driver's license, clothing, guitar, CDs and other items were found scattered in and around the car. Pieces of cat food and a small cat carrier were found in the car, which confirms that Leah took Bea with her on the trip, although the cat was never found. However, valuables such as $ 2500 in cash in his pants pocket and jewelry were also left inside, indicating that the accident was not a robbery.
Investigation of the missing girl
The police called on the public to help with the investigation. One man called the police and said that his wife saw Roberts at a gas station in Everett, Washington, disoriented. This happened a few days after the discovery of the car.
After completing the preliminary investigation, Kara asked the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office to keep Leah's car in case new evidence emerged years later. That decision bore fruit in 2006 when Mark Joseph, the detective who originally investigated the case, turned over his files to two junior detectives.
While investigating the case, one of the detectives noticed that the car and its contents had been poorly examined for evidence, so they decided to do this work again. Since during the initial investigation no one looked under the hood of the jeep, detectives opened it and found that one of the wires had been cut, which would have allowed the car to accelerate without pressing the gas pedal. This confirmed early suspicions that the car was empty as it drove off the road into the woods. That is, someone deliberately pushed him.
Detectives found a fingerprint under the hood and some male DNA on Leah's garment. This finding led them to a witness who claimed that Leah had left Bellis Fair with a man she called Barry a few days before her disappearance. This man allegedly worked as a mechanic, he had a military background, which further increased the suspicions of detectives. Later it became known that the suspect had moved to Canada, which complicated and delayed attempts to obtain fingerprints and DNA from him.
The case is still open, Leah's whereabouts remain unknown.