In Search of Closure: Family Plead for Information on Missing West Virginia Native, Grace Allison Smith
It has been a heart-wrenching months since Grace Allison Smith, aged 35, vanished without a trace from her hometown in West Virginia. The lingering sounds of her laughter, which once brought joy to her sister, Jodi Jones, now haunt her as she grapples with Grace's mysterious disappearance on February 23, 2022.
Jodi remembers Grace as a radiant, effervescent woman who never met a person she couldn't converse with. Following the untimely death of their eldest sister, Jill, in 2002 due to a brain aneurysm, the bond between Jodi and Grace intensified, making the present silence even more poignant.
Life had put some distance between them when Jodi relocated to New York in 2012. Their paths diverged further as Grace battled undisclosed personal demons, leading her into the clutches of drug addiction, a bitter truth that was kept from Jodi by their mother for several years.
As Grace's marriage unraveled and her addiction intensified, her life began spiraling out of control. In 2021, she separated from her husband, with whom she shares a 10-year-old daughter. Grace is also the mother to a 17-year-old son from a previous relationship. At the time she went missing, she had been living out of her car, estranged and homeless.
The fateful day that marked her disappearance saw her visiting her parents' residence in Mason County to freshen up and do laundry. Despite the family's urging for her to attend rehab, Grace seemed to have other plans. On that day, a conversation with her father was the last known contact anyone had with her, an exchange that ended with a plea for her to enter treatment.
When Grace failed to make an appearance the following day, what was initially brushed off as reluctance towards rehab soon turned into frantic worry. Her mother was the first to raise the alarm, having not heard from her daughter, who would usually remain in regular contact.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation into Grace's disappearance, turning their focus to a disturbing discovery made on February 25, 2022. Grace's vehicle was found abandoned in the McClintic Wildlife area, her personal items, including her purse and car keys, were eerily laid out on the vehicle's hood, and her clothes were inside. Sheriff Corey Miller emphasized the active role Grace played in her family's life, debunking the theory of voluntary disappearance and suggesting potential foul play.
As days turned into months, efforts to locate Grace have been ramped up, with authorities treating her disappearance with the gravity of a homicide investigation. Despite extensive searches and numerous tips, Grace remains missing, leaving her family clinging to dwindling hope and a community rattled.
Jodi, in a heartfelt conversation with Dateline, spoke of their unyielding efforts to find Grace, including organizing a large search party and a candlelight vigil in her honor. The pain in Jodi's voice was palpable as she narrated the toll Grace's disappearance has had on their mother, who is grappling with the seemingly endless nightmare.
In a bid to accelerate the search, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office has announced a reward of $7,500 for any information that can shed light on Grace's whereabouts. Grace, standing at 5'4" and weighing 90 lbs, was last seen donning a blue jacket, a yellow sweater, blue jeans, and black Ugg boots. Distinctively, she has a fairy tattoo on her lower back. Her family implores anyone with information to come forward, urging them to contact the Mason County Sheriff’s Office at 304-675-3838.
In the meantime, Jodi clings to the memory of Grace's laughter, a sound that once echoed with joy and happiness, now a haunting reminder of the vibrant woman whose absence has left an unfillable void in the lives of those who love her.