A North Carolina woman, 23-year-old Leah Roberts, disappeared without a trace on March 9, 2000. Roberts left a note that led her friends, family, and investigators to believe she was embarking on a cross-country spiritual adventure to Washington after losing both her parents. Those who knew Roberts also noted that she had a love for Jack Kerouac and was fascinated by his adventurous literature.
Just a few days after she left, police in Washington found Roberts's car wrecked at the bottom of an embankment. Her valuables were still in the car, but there was no trace of Roberts. The case has puzzled authorities as well as Roberts's family and friends for years.
Tips have yet to yield any solid information regarding Roberts's whereabouts. If you have any information that could help uncover what happened to Leah Roberts, please contact the detective sergeant of the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office at 360-778-6600, or contact the Whatcom Communication Dispatch Center at 360-676-6711.
Roberts's Family Believes She Left On Her Own From Durham, North Carolina, In March 2000Photo: BringLeahHome / Facebook
Leah Roberts left Durham, North Carolina, for Washington state on March 9, 2000. She took off in her white '93 Jeep Cherokee on what her friends and family believe was an expedition of self-discovery. Investigators were able to track her journey to Washington, but after March 13, there was no trace of Roberts anywhere.
At the time, police described Leah as 5'6" tall, 130 pounds with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. She was 23 years old.
Roberts's Jeep Was Discovered Wrecked And Abandoned In A Ravine In Washington State Nine Days After She Left Home
Nine days after Roberts left North Carolina, a couple hiking at Mount Baker National Forest in Washington state discovered clothing on a tree branch. They followed the clothes to an embankment not far from Desolation Peak, where they found Roberts's Jeep wrecked and abandoned.
Police confirmed the vehicle belonged to Roberts and found a receipt that indicated she filled up at an Oregon gas station four days after she left her home on the other side of the country. Police also found a movie ticket from the same day for the Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham, Washington. Investigators assume her destination was Washington state.
Roberts Recently Lost Both Her Parents And Dropped Out Of College Before She Left
Roberts lost both her parents by the age of 23. Her mother perished as a result of a heart condition, and she lost her father to a rare lung disease. She also suffered a near-fatal car wreck, leaving her with a metal rod in her leg to support her femur bone. Roberts's brother, Heath Roberts, believes his sister was looking to escape the hardships she'd endured, and that each of these incidents contributed to her decision to leave home.
"I think that all of those things together had the cumulative effect of making Leah even more introspective and probably more aware that, although she didn't know what she wanted to do, I think she was unhappy that she wasn't achieving it," Heath told Unsolved Mysteries.
Roberts was three months away from graduating with a degree in Spanish from North Carolina State University when she withdrew from her classes. Her family encouraged her to finish her course work, but to no avail. Roberts left home shortly thereafter.
Roberts's Valuables, Including A Large Sum Of Cash And Her Mother's Ring, Were Left Behind In Her Car
Police believe someone might have taken shelter in Roberts's Jeep. Blankets were found hanging over the broken windows, indicating someone may have been trying to protect themselves against the elements.
Roberts inherited an undisclosed amount of money after she lost her parents. Detectives found $2,500 cash in her vehicle in addition to other items, including her mother's engagement ring, which her family insists she would not have left behind intentionally.
"As long as I've known Leah, she has worn her mother's engagement ring," Roberts's roommate, Nicole Bennett, stated. "It was her most prized possession. And when we discovered that the ring had been found in the car, it was definitely, for me, a bad sign."