Charlottesville, VA

He Had A Secret Affair With A Trans Woman. Now They Are Both Missing

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished
Erik McFadden, Dashad "Sage" Smith (middle and far right pic)Photo byFacebook

Information for this story was obtained from the Where Are They Podcast and The Charley Project.

Born DaShad Smith, Sage Smith, knew she was different at an early age. According to friends and family, Sage always felt like she was a girl. When she came out as a teenager, not everyone accepted who she was. This was something she struggled with most of her life. She was the target of bullying, teasing and more.

Her parents, Latasha Dennis and Dean Smith, divorced soon after she was born, and Sage lived with her mother for a while. Eventually she went to live with her paternal grandmother, Lolita Smith, with whom she was very close. When Latasha remarried, Sage moved back with her mother but ended up in foster care.

She made a major accomplishment in June 2011 when she became the first person in her family to graduate from high school.

Sage lived in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2012 she got her own apartment, and two friends became her roommates.

On November 19, 2012, 19-year-old Sage and her roommates held a get-together at their apartment.

She had a disagreement with one of her roommates, and the roommate agreed to leave for a few days.

On November 20, 2012, Sage was excited about spending the Thanksgiving Holiday with her family. She called her father and asked for some money. Later the same day, Sage informed one of her roommates that she had a date and was going out.

The following morning, November 21, 2012, Sage was not in the apartment. Her roommate called her several times, but the phone went straight to voicemail. The roommate called Sage's grandmother, Lolita, who called her father, Dean. They decided that Sage would likely be at Thanksgiving dinner, but when she failed to show up, they knew something was wrong. The family reported her missing on Thanksgiving Day.

One of her stepsisters saw Sage on the evening of November 20, 2012, around 6:30 pm in the 500 block of West Main Street. She was on her cell phone and told someone that she would "be there in 10 minutes," the Where Are They Podcast reports.

Her family traced her cell phone records and discovered the last number she had contact with was an out-of-state phone number that belonged to man named Erik McFadden. The family posted the number on Facebook asking for help, and someone identified the number as Erik's.

Even though he had a girlfriend, 21-year-old Erik McFadden began talking to Sage in 2012. They pair met online and started meeting regularly in person. Erik reportedly paid Sage to keep their secret from his girlfriend.

Investigators discovered Erik and Sage were planning to meet at the Hampton Inn Motel, and Sage was late.

On November 21, 2012, Erik asked the same person, who would later identify his number via Facebook, to delete all his contact information from his phone.

On November 24, 2012, Erik McFadden's girlfriend contacted police, said she had been unable to reach him, and asked them to do a welfare check on Erik. Authorities checked his apartment and found no one home.

On November 25, 2012, Erik called his girlfriend, told her he was in Washington, DC and asked her for some money. She told Erik the police wanted to speak to him. On November 27, 2012, he contacted authorities, telling them he was in New York. He admitted to having a relationship with Sage, admitted they were supposed to meet on November 20, 2012, but said Sage never made it.

He agreed to come back to Charlottesville for questioning, and no one has seen or heard from Erik McFadden ever again. His family reported him missing in 2019.

Sage Smith has never been found, and authorities have reclassified her disappearance as a homicide.

There is a Facebook page dedicated to finding Sage, Hope for Sage Smith:

Where Are They Podcast:

Sage Smith is 5'8" and weighed 130 pounds when she vanished.

Erik McFadden is 5'10" and weighed 190 pounds when he vanished.

If you have any information, please contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280.

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