A woman is found dead in North Carolina after vanishing in Philadelphia.
In 1997, Judy Smith decided to accompany her husband, Jeff, to a work conference in Philadelphia. Before their flight was to depart, Judy realized she had forgotten her driver’s license and was forced to take a later flight. Jeff reluctantly agreed and the two met up in Philadelphia later that night. The next day Judy went sightseeing while Jeff attended his conference. According to Jeff, Judy was to meet him at their hotel at 5:00 PM:
Jeff contacted the local hospitals and police. When nothing turned up, he searched Philadelphia by taxi. According to Jeff, he traced the path of the tour bus Judy had planned to ride that day:
Months went by, but there was no trace of Judy Smith. The Philadelphia police were just as perplexed as her husband. They could find no evidence she had been murdered or abducted. But Judy’ daughter, Amy Hartford, was convinced her mother had an accident or worse, developed amnesia:
On the day she vanished, Judy set out for her day of sightseeing at 9:00 AM. As always, she carried her belongings in her trademark red backpack. She had told Jeff she planned to visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Whatever caused Judy to vanish occurred during the next eight hours. After the Philadelphia police turned up no trace of Judy, Jeff had no choice but to return home to Boston. From his office, he faxed and mailed 9,000 flyers about Judy up and down the Eastern seaboard. He also hired three private investigators. But according to Jeff, they uncovered no significant clues.
Then, five months after Judy had vanished, a father and son noticed something strange while hiking near Asheville, North Carolina. According to Lieutenant Sam Constance of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, they found a partially buried skeleton which animals had strewn over a 100 yard area:
Police requested Judy’s dental records after seeing Jeff’s “missing” flyers in the area. Forensics confirmed that they were the remains of Judy Smith. Judy’s daughter Amy was in a state of disbelief:
No one could understand how Judy ended up so far away from Philadelphia. Authorities found Judy’s diamond wedding ring and $167 in cash at the crime scene. They concluded that robbery was not the motive. But police had another clue. Four eyewitnesses in Asheville claimed to have seen Judy just days after she vanished. One of them was retail clerk, Joanne Stucker:
But if Judy left Philadelphia of her own free will, the question was why. Judy’s friend, Carolyn Dickey, had her own theory for Judy’s disappearance:
According to Lieutenant Constance, investigators found two clues suggesting what might have happened to Judy:
What scenario resulted in Judy’s murder in an isolated area of North Carolina? Who stabbed her, then left her in a shallow grave? Was it a stranger, or someone she may have schemed to meet in Asheville? Unfortunately, North Carolina investigators still have no idea why Judy Smith was killed.