Four Months Later, Ashburn Woman Still Missing
Investigators continue to seek clues in case of young mother, college student.
For the past three and half months, investigators have worked long hours, occasionally releasing new photos, to determine the whereabouts of Bethany Anne Decker, an Ashburn mother and college student who has a second child on the way.
Hope remains that the young woman will one day call her young son or her mother and say she’s alright, but such hopes fades with each passing day. She was approximately five months pregnant when she disappeared, meaning she should have just about reached full term by now. Neither the cell phone known to be hers nor any of her credit cards have been used since she was last seen Jan. 29.
Investigators have not released specific details about Decker’s cell phone or credit cards, such as where and when they were last used prior to or on Jan. 29. However, they have released a timeline that places Decker in Columbia, MD, on Jan. 29 with family members, including her grandmother and her husband, Emile Decker. Decker’s mother, Kimberly Nelson, said she communicated with the gathering by speakerphone.
“That was the last time I had spoken with her,” Nelson said during a press conference in early March. Decker, 21 at the time of her disappearance, is now 22.
Later in the evening on Jan. 29, Decker returned to her apartment in Ashburn, where her boyfriend, Ronald Roldan, told investigators he saw her. Capt. Kenneth A. Pratt, an investigator with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, described the last time she was seen as “arriving home and going to her apartment.”
On Feb. 2, Emile Decker, who has been described as Decker’s "estranged" husband in court documents, departed for a tour duty in Afghanistan. Bethany Decker did not see him off.
Over the course of the next three weeks, family members did not report Decker missing, in part, they said, because she is a 21-year-old adult leading her own life, as well as a college student. But on Feb. 19, Bethany’s grandparents decided to check her apartment as they traveled to see their great-grandson. When they found her car, but not her, they contacted authorities.
The most intriguing recent revelation may be that Decker’s boyfriend has obtained a lawyer. Kraig Troxell, the public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, was unable to say Thursday whether that means Roldan has stopped cooperating or continues with the assistance of his attorney. The attorney was not indentified.
“Mr. Decker has continued to cooperate,” Troxell said. “Mr. Roldan had been cooperating, but he now has a lawyer.”
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office investigators continue to emphasize that they have not discovered a crime scene, evidence of foul play, a body or any other evidence that could lead to charges against any individual. Lacking such evidence, hope remains that Decker will be found safe.
Details are cloudy about where the relationships stood – despite some unsubstantiated speculation online – with two men in Decker’s life. She remains legally married to Emile Decker, the father of her son and the man with whom she traveled to Hawaii in January shortly before her disappearance. The reason for that trip has not been clarified, but during the March press conference, Bethany’s mother said Bethany had family there.
Roldan, according to investigators, may be the father of the child she was carrying when she disappeared. She and Roldan were expected to move out of the apartment they shared at the end of January, but where she planned to live and with whom remains unclear.
It’s unknown whether Emile Decker and Roldan were acquanted, or whether the status of either had changed in the days prior to her disappearance. Roldan moved out of the apartment he shared with her sometime in early February after his last contact with her.
While Roldan told investigators he saw Decker on Jan. 29, the nature of any conversation has not been released. Previous attempts by Patch to contact Roldan were unsuccessful and the identity of his attorney could not be determined Thursday.
In the affidavit for the search of the Centreville home where Roldan was most recently living with his mother, investigators stated that Decker’s family members told them she described the man as “controlling and abusive.” Investigators stated in court documents that Roldan made conflicting statements about when he noticed Decker’s car at the apartment they shared.
To date, there has been no evidence of a crime. No suspects have been identified nor has anyone been excluded from suspicion. Pictures of Emile Decker have been released, but not of Roldan.
Investigators found a purse that belonged to Bethany, as well as keys and her driver’s license at the Ashburn apartment, but have been unable to confirm whether she had another set of keys and ID for short trips.
“We weren’t really able to confirm we found her daily purse,” Troxell said. However, he said the driver's license deputies found was current.
While Decker's mother said she was preparing for spring classes at George Mason University, investigators were unable to confirm attendance after December 2010. Decker's focus on college is why her parents were caring for her son. She had hoped to finish in the summer or at the end of the year, Nelson said.
At one point, investigators said it appeared that someone used Decker’s Facebook account, which had been inactive; however, no information has been released about whether investigators were able to trace the IP address associated with those posts.
While multiple calls have been made to the Sheriff’s Office, few have resulted in concrete leads. Anyone with any information about Bethany, her state of mind or her disappearance is asked to contact Investigator M. Halley at 703-777-0475. Regardless of how insignificant the information may seem, investigators want to hear from friends, family, classmates, coworkers or anyone else who knows or may have come in contact with Decker recently or at the time of her disappearance.