22 Years Ago, a Young Soul Searcher Embarked on a Cross Country Trip. She Was Never Seen Alive Again.

Fatim Hemraj

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1acBCo_0elimsQO00
Leah RobertsFacebook

After losing both of her parents and surviving a near-fatal car crash by the age of 23, Leah Roberts was determined to live her life to the fullest. For Leah, that meant dropping out of university, adopting a kitten named Bea and embarking on a soul-searching cross-country road trip inspired by Jack Kerouac, a popular Beat generation author who once wrote about his travels to Washington’s Desolation Peak in his autobiography, The Dharma Bums.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1v7nmO_0elimsQO00
A fire lookout on Desolation Peak where Kerouac spent over 60 daysnpv.gov

On March 9th, 2000, Leah withdrew $3,000 from her bank account, put Bea in her white 1993 Jeep Cherokee and left her hometown of Durham, North Carolina, headed towards Desolation Peak 3,000 miles away, without telling a single soul. According to the Charley Project, she was reported missing four days later by her older sister, Kara.

While searching for clues as to where she might have gone, Kara found a cryptic note on Leah’s dresser that read in part:

This is to cover bills for while I am gone. Remember — everyone is together in thoughts and prayers and time passes quickly. Have faith in me, yourself.
No, I’m not suicidal. I’m the opposite. Remember Jack Kerouac?
https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1EkJrS_0elimsQO00
Leah left this note behindThe missing and the lost

Along with the note was a drawing of the Cheshire Cat’s grin and enough cash to pay for Leah’s portion of the rent and bills for a month, leading Kara and her roommate, Nicole to believe she would return soon.

But that wasn’t the case.

On March 13th, Leah used her bank account for the last time to purchase $20 worth of gas in Brooks, Oregon. She was captured on surveillance footage, peering through the window several times as though she was accompanied by someone who was waiting for her in the parking lot. Unfortunately, there were no cameras in the parking lot to determine who that person was.

On March 18th, a couple was jogging along Canyon Creek Road in rural Washington when they stumbled upon Leah’s wrecked vehicle at the bottom of an embankment. According to Disappeared, the windows were smashed and covered with blankets.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3IzGuW_0elimsQO00
Leah Roberts’ car after it was found at the bottom of an embankmentSquare space

Curiously, there was no blood found inside the car leading detectives to believe it was empty when it was purposefully crashed at 35km an hour.

Their suspicions were confirmed in 2006 during a second more thorough investigation when a detective opened the hood of the vehicle for the first time and discovered that a wire had been intentionally cut, allowing it to accelerate without any pressure being applied to the gas pedal.

Also found under the hood was a single fingerprint.

A few days after Leah’s car was found, a man called the police claiming that his wife had seen Leah after the crash at a gas station in Everett, Washington. The man’s wife said Leah was disoriented and couldn’t remember who she was. When asked to elaborate further, he panicked and hung up.

Robbery was ruled out after authorities found Leah’s mother’s engagement ring underneath a floor mat and $2,500 stuffed inside the pocket of a pair of jeans. Leah wore the ring everywhere she went and once told friends the only way she would ever take it off is if she couldn’t remember her identity.

Also left behind was an empty cat carrier, Leah’s guitar, clothes, driver’s license, chequebook, passport, and a box filled with mementos from her trip.

According to Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, inside the box was a ticket stub dated March 13th for a 2:10 pm showing of American Beauty at Bellis Fair, a mall in Bellingham. Hoping Leah had stopped by for a bite to eat after the movie, detectives travelled to the mall’s sole restaurant where they met a man who recalled seeing her that day.

The man, a mechanic with a military background, claimed Leah left the restaurant with a man known only as “Barry” after talking with him at length about her plans to follow in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1Ois2m_0elimsQO00
A composite sketch of “Barry”The true crime files

He provided an extremely detailed description of “Barry” and a sketch was released to the public but detectives were unable to track him down, leading them to believe that “Barry” never existed at all. When confronted, the mechanic fled to Canada. Two painstaking years later, authorities were finally able to obtain his fingerprints. Disappointingly, it wasn’t a match.

In 2010, a sample of male DNA was recovered from Leah’s clothing. The case has gone cold since and 22 years later, what happened to her remains one of the biggest mysteries the state of Washington has ever faced.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4Bonjl_0elimsQO00
Leah Toby Roberts circa 2000Alchetron

At the time of her disappearance, Leah was 5'6" and 130 lbs with blue eyes and blonde hair. According to the Charley Project, she has a metal rod alongside her femur and a surgical scar on her right hip from a car accident. She is fluent in Spanish and has a beauty mark above her lip on the right side. If you have any information, contact Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office at 360-778-6600.

Sources: Forum Daily, Disappearance of Leah Roberts, Trace Evidence, True Case Files, The Charley Project, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office

Comments / 36

Published by

Hi, I'm an independent crime journalist covering missing person investigations and resolved cases. I also publish on Medium. To reach out, contact me at fatimhemraj@gmail.com.

N/A
29126 followers

More from Fatim Hemraj

Comments / 0