23-year old Darian Hudson was the type of young woman who was always ready to cheer someone up.
“If you were having a bad day, Darian would change that,” her mother, Stephanie Hudson, told Dateline. “She would just flash that smile of hers… or say something funny. She had this big heart that shone through her smile. And well, she was… she is… the light of our lives.”
In 2017, Darian was living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, a few hours away from her hometown in Hutchinson, Kansas. She worked as a server at Chili's and had enrolled in nursing classes.
The year prior, Darian went through a rough time. She went through a break-up with her boyfriend, suffered a miscarriage, and her beloved dog, Zig, died. Darian decided to save money that she would move back home to Hutchinson. On October 21, 2017, she called her mom and discussed her plans.
“She had gone through a rough time,” Stephanie told Dateline. “But she was excited about nursing school and coming home to be with her family. We made plans to come get her that weekend.”
A few days later, Stephanie received news from Stillwater that Darian was missing.
“My phone was blowing up with calls and texts from her friends,” Stephanie told Dateline. “No one could find her and she hadn’t shown up for work.”
The next day, Darian's family drove to Stillwater to file a missing person's report on Darian. The police told the family they had to wait 48 hours, so they began to search themselves.
According to Dateline, Stephanie said the door to Darian's home was open with dishes in the sink and a light was on. None of her friends or neighbors knew where Darian was. When the 48 hours passed, the Stillwater Police Department started an investigation. Police questioned her friends and family, but it was not until December 2017 the police received a lead.
According to Dateline, in early December 2017, someone attempted to use Darian's debit card at a hotel in Oklahoma City. The man told the police he found the card inside a purse that was sitting on a concrete sewage container. He found it in Stillwater at a construction site he worked at in October 2017.
The location was under construction at Country Club Road and McElroy Road for the St. Francis Catholic Church at the time. Investigators went back there and spoke to multiple workers at the site. According to Dateline, several of them remembered seeing a woman on October 26, 2017, who matched Darian's description. The workers said the woman was south of the site in a wooded area, not engaging with anyone, with a blank stare, reports Dateline.
The neighbor living on the property adjoining the church told authorities he saw his grandchildren talking to Darian later in the day on October 26, 2017, reports Dateline. The man said his grandson got off the school bus and saw a woman who matched the description of Darian walk up from the creek, through his electrified fence, walk on his property and walk up to his grandchildren, reports Dateline. According to the man by the time he made it over to his grandchildren, she was gone. The man said Darian walked north on McElroy and then west toward Country Club, reports Dateline.
Authorities used cadaver dogs and drones to search for Darian throughout the area. The police found a wallet and sweatshirt belonging to Darian, but she was not located.
“It’s not like her at all… she was the social media queen,” Stephanie told Dateline. “And she always had her phone. Always. Doesn’t make sense for her to be somewhere without it.”
Darian Hudson was 5'3" and weighed 120 pounds when she vanished.
If you have any information, please contact the Stillwater Police Department at 405-742-8357.