The Disappearance of Leah Roberts
Last Edit: February 26th, 2011
I originally wrote this blog posting back in December 2010. This is a case that I have been interested in since it originally happened. At the time, I was 12 years old and in the 6th grade. Since I lived in Washington, it was on the local news frequently. Even at the time, it was clear that it was a very baffling missing persons case. 11 years later, the disappearance of Leah Roberts still remains unsolved. When I wrote this blog posting last December, my main sources of information were news articles, and a story on Leah’s disappearance on Unsolved Mysteries. However, last week, a new documentary aired on the disappearance of Leah Roberts. It contained a lot of new information, and so, I have decided to rewrite this post.
Leah Roberts was a 23-year-old woman from North Carolina who disappeared in March of 2000 in northern Washington State. Before Leah went missing, she was having a hard time with life. Both of her parents died, and she decided to drop out of college. Leah spent her days writing poetry, journal entries, and thinking about life.
On March 9th, 2000, without telling anyone, Leah Roberts decided to take off from North Carolina and drive across country to Washington State. This clearly wasn’t just a small trip. It can take up to a week to drive from one coast to the other. Leah told no one of her plans in advance, but Leah did leave a note to her loved ones explaining about her trip and insisted she was not suicidal. This was the last time Leah’s family saw her alive.
Nearly 10 days later, Leah’s jeep was discovered wrecked off Mount Baker highway in the cascade mountains in northern Washington State. Fuel receipts, a movie ticket stub, some of her belongings, and $2,500 of Leah’s money was found in a pants pocket in the jeep. In addition, clothes were hanging over the car, as if someone tried to build a shelter and protect themselves from the weather. Clothes were also on the side of the road, as if someone put them there to signal for help. Leah, however, was nowhere to be found.
Through gas receipts and surveillance tapes, police were able to establish that Leah did make it to Washington State and that she appeared to be alone. She also went and saw a movie on March 13th, 2000 and went to a nearby restaurant to eat. It is at this restaurant, that Leah talked to two men about her trip. Both men insisted though that they had nothing to do with Leah’s disappearance.
So, where was Leah? A few days after Leah’s jeep was found, a witness called police and said he believed he and his wife had seen Leah inside a gas station about 30 miles from the crash. He stated that she seemed confused and did not who she was. Before police could obtain additional details though, the man hung up.
Up until the episode of “Disappeared” that appeared on Investigation Discovery, this was about all that was known of Leah Roberts disappearance. The case was profiled on “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Larry King Live”, but this was several years ago. The leading theory appeared to be that Leah Roberts crashed her jeep, and suffered some sort of amnesia and may still be alive. Although foul play was never ruled out by police, I always personally leaned towards the theory that Leah Roberts had some sort of amnesia, or may have gotten lost in the woods. If there was foul play, I figured it may have been someone that came in contact with Leah AFTER the crash. With Leah’s case being profiled on “Disappeared” though, a lot of new details about the case came to light. Some of the biggest new information that was made available in this case was this:
- Leah’s jeep appeared to have been tampered with. This would have made it so that Leah’s jeep would accelerate (and crash) by itself.
- The second person Leah spoke with at the restaurant insists that she left with another man, and a sketch was created.
- Fingerprints and DNA were recovered from Leah’s Jeep.
This is clearly some major information that was revealed in “Disappeared”. A lot of the new information seems to support the theory that foul play was involved. This new information though seems to contradict some of the other bits of information. For instance, if someone tampered with Leah’s jeep and crashed her jeep, why would they do that? Why was some of the stuff in Leah’s jeep set outside of the jeep? Why were there clothes over the windows of the jeep? If someone was responsible for her disappearance, wrecking her jeep in the way it was done would just bring more attention to her disappearance.
Some more questions:
- What about the sighting at the gas station? This was not mentioned at all in the “Disappeared” documentary.
- How confident are detectives with the fingerprints and DNA that was recovered? For instance, could the fingerprints under the hood be from a mechanic with no connection to Leah’s disappearance?
- Why were some of Leah’s personal belongings (such as her hat, and her kitten) never found with the jeep?
Throughout these last 11 years, all sorts of theories have been thought of. Here are some of the theories people discuss:
- Leah wrecked her jeep, hitchhiked to get help, and was kidnapped by someone.
- Leah wrecked her jeep, hit her head, and is alive with some sort of amensia.
- Leah was kidnapped sometime before her car crashed, and the kidnapper crashed her car.
- Leah staged the crash and decided to start a new life.
With each of these theories, you can pretty much argue for or against the theory. It really is truly a baffling case. Evidence points in all different directions.
So what exactly happened? Is Leah still alive? Does she have amnesia? Was she murdered? Who was driving her jeep? Did someone really intentionally crash the jeep? Why did someone appear to seek shelter inside the jeep? There are so many questions, and so little answers. However, detectives refuse to give up on this case. With possible fingerprints and DNA being found, it’s possible that one day, we might finally know what happened to Leah Roberts.