Ashtabula, OH

Roommate Said Missing Mother "Needed To Get Away", But Friends And Family Say "She Would Never Walk Out On Her Kids,"

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished
Anna ZirklePhoto byThe Charley Project

Anna Zirkle had a rough childhood growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio. She lost her father in 1982 as a young girl, there is no information on her mother, and she lived in foster care for years before being adopted by a loving family in Saybrook Township, Ohio, the Star Beacon reports.

While in school, Anna met Derrin D. Williams. Once she graduated, she and Derrin moved into a house in Warren, Ohio, and had two sons together. The couple wanted a fresh start and decided to pack their children up and move to Columbus, Ohio. Derrin had a cousin named Troy Austin who moved to Columbus with them. Columbus is about 170 miles from Warren.

On February 1, 1997, Derrin was in Warren visiting some old friends. He left 22-year-old Anna and the kids in Columbus at their house at 354 N. Roosevelt Avenue with his cousin Troy. According to Troy, Anna told him that she was “tired of everything and needed to get away," the Columbus Dispatch reports. He said Anna gave him the money to buy bus tickets for the kids and himself and wanted him to take the children to Derrin in Warren, Ohio.

Anna has never been seen or heard from again.

Five days later, on February 6, 1997, a neighbor reported Anna missing to the police. The neighbor became concerned because Anna left her two sons at home, something out of character for Anna.

According to a press release, the neighbor said, “She would have taken them with her."

Upon investigation, authorities discovered she left her identification, a $388 uncashed check, and her family said she would never abandon her children.

“She was so loving, so nurturing and such a devoted mom that she would never walk out on her kids," her friend, Janet Montoya, told Fox 8.

The police suspect foul play in her disappearance.

“It’s devastating,” Anna's foster mother, Juanita Chapman, told Fox 8. “It’s devastating because we still don’t know anything.”

In 2010 the US Marshall’s Office received a tip Anna was buried at 4507 Old Plank Road in Ashtabula County, but in 2011, a 2-day search yielded no clues or evidence.

“No remains were found, and no evidence was removed from this site,” Kathie Justice, of the Columbus Division of Police’s homicide squad, told the Star Beacon.

Anna's case remains unsolved and no charges have been filed in connection with her disappearance.

“We are not giving up. The reason I can’t give up hope, I am a cancer survivor, and I didn’t give up hope then and I don’t plan to give up hope now," Janet told Fox 8. "God gave me a second opportunity to live, and I would like to afford that to Anna Zirkle and her family, a second opportunity to find out if she is alive and if she is alive how do we bring her home and if she is not, what happened and still bring her home."

Anna Zirkle is 5'5" and weighed 135 pounds when she vanished. If you have any information, please contact the Columbus Police at 614-645-4860.

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Columbus, OH

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