Family members of a woman who has been missing since January spoke with members of the media Wednesday to plead for anyone who has seen her to contact authorities.
Bethany Anne Decker, 21, disappeared shortly before the U.S. Army deployed her husband to the Middle East. She was last seen Jan. 29. Investigators said Decker was recently either evicted from her Ashburn apartment or let the lease lapse; however, her car was discovered at the apartment complex on Feb. 16.
“It’s quite disturbing,” said Kimberly Nelson, Decker’s mother. “She’s my oldest. We all love her dearly. It’s so hard not knowing anything and not being able to reach her. She’s such a joy. We just want her to be somewhere where she’s safe.”
Nelson said the family was close and stayed in touch regularly. Decker had never run away as a child or teenager, her mother said. Nelson also said that since Decker’s family did not live in Ashburn, because she was a college student, and because she was a married adult, they were not immediately concerned by a lack of communication from her. However, when Decker's grandparents decided to visit her apartment, and saw her car but no sign of her, the alarm sounded.
"We just had a feeling," Evelyn Bayles, Decker's grandmother said, explaining what prompted the visit to the apartment. Bayles referenced a Bible passage that encourages hope, which keeps her going through the ordeal. "I hang on to that truth and on faith that He will bring Bethany back alive. Bethany, we love you very much."
Decker has not been in contact with her 17-month-old son since her disappearance, a point that causes further worry. “Not being in contact with him and missing that time with him is very concerning,” Nelson said. That son lives with Decker's parents.
The long time since Decker’s disappearance has made chasing down leads difficult, according to investigators who are hoping someone who has seen Decker will contact them.
“Admittedly, we’re playing catch up,” said Capt. Kenneth A. Pratt, an investigator with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. “We are currently looking for leads and looking for people to continue to interview.”
Pratt said several calls had been made to the Sheriff’s Office during the past 24 hours and investigators were busy pursuing those leads. No signs of foul play have been reported at Decker’s apartment.
Investigators from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department confirmed they spoke with Decker’s husband, Emile, Tuesday night. The time difference has made communication with him difficult, Pratt said. It's uncertain when Emile will be able to return to assist in the search.
“We have made phone contact with Emile. He has answered several questions for us,” said Pratt. Pratt said investigators have not identified a suspect or any persons of interest.
One thing investigators would like to learn more about is the whether Decker and her husband were having marital problems. “If there were problems, we’d like to hear it from Emile,” Pratt said.
Decker’s parents and grandparents declined to respond when asked about her relationship with her husband, citing the investigation. But they also expressed confidence that her husband knows as little as they do.
“Yes, I do believe he is shocked,” Nelson said. “He feels quite helpless being so far away.”
Investigators said late Wednesday that they were working with the U.S. Army to arrange a digital "face-to-face" interview and that he was "eager" to cooperate.
According to Nelson, the couple vacationed in Hawaii prior to Decker’s disappearance, returning about one week before she was last seen. She did not see her husband off on his deployment on Feb. 2, four days after she was last seen.
Nelson said Decker is close to graduating from George Mason University and also works as a waitress. She is pregnant with another child that is expected this summer. Nelson said Decker's son misses her.
"He sees her picture and it just brightens up his face," she said.
Investigators are seeking information from anyone who knows her whereabouts or has seen her since Jan. 29. Anyone with information should contact Loudoun County Sheriff's Investigator M. Halley at 703-777-0475.