20 years ago, a mom of three went Christmas shopping and never came home.

Fatim Hemraj

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Michele Lyn Hundley SmithBring Michele Hundley Smith Home

Michele Hundley Smith lived with her husband and three children in Stoneville, a quaint North Carolina town known for its antique stores and mom-and-pop shops with a population of less than 1,000 at the time.

According to NBC News, on December 9, 2001, at 8:30 pm, the 38-year-old kissed her family goodnight and drove off in her forest green 95' Trans Sport Van to do some late-night Christmas shopping in Martinsville, Virginia, 20 miles away. At midnight, Michele’s husband woke their 14-year-old daughter, Amanda, up in a panic, claiming she hadn’t returned home. Neither Michele nor her vehicle was ever seen again. It was as if the mom of 3 had vanished into thin air.

Also missing was Michele’s purse and wallet which contained her and her children’s social security cards. 5 months later, her husband received a letter in the mail from Maryland. According to The Vanished Podcast, it was addressed to Michele and Amanda and read that Amanda’s social security number had been used in Cumberland. Amanda contacted the number provided but they refused to give her any additional information. It’s unclear whether the social security number was used by Michele or someone else involved in her disappearance.

For years, Michele’s husband told their children she left them on purpose and started a new life. Several years later, he suddenly claimed Michele had left a note behind stating she loved her family but could no longer stay. It’s unclear whether the note even exists; during an interview with The Vanished Podcast, Amanda claimed her father now denies ever mentioning a note.

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Michele with her daughters, Amanda and KittieBring Michele Hundley Smith Home

Michele worked at a veterinarian clinic but was fired shortly before her disappearance for drinking on the job. She struggled with alcoholism which led to many fights between her and her husband, fights that sometimes turned physical. Their relationship was known to be tumultuous.

Michele’s husband is remarried and lives in the same house. Their children are now convinced foul play was involved and that either he accidentally hurt Michele during an argument after she returned home from Virginia, or that she was harmed by someone else and truly never came back.

“My hope is that if she is out there, somewhere, she’ll see this, and reach out. I just want her to know that I would accept her and welcome her back with open arms.” — Amanda Hundley

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Michele's disappearance. According to The Charley Project, she was last seen wearing a green blouse, blue jeans and brown moccasins. She was 5'3" and 150 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. Her license plate read ROK-N-ON. If alive, Michele would be 58 today.

If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Michele Hundley Smith, contact Crime Stoppers at 336–349–9683 or Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office at 336–634–3238.

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Independent crime journalist & TBI survivor | Reach me @ fatimhemraj@gmail.com

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