No one ever expects someone they know to disappear, but over 100,000 people are reported missing in the U.S each year. The process of searching for a missing individual is relatively straightforward, and every so often, all it takes is a single piece of information to crack a case wide open.
When a Houston woman didn’t come home from work one day, the police were quick to begin a search for the missing girl. After running into dead end after dead end, a tip from an anonymous restaurant patron came in that turned the case completely on its head.
A Texas native, Courtney Roland practically ate, slept, and breathed sports growing up. Football was one of her passions, and so when it came time for her to attend Texas A&M University, no Aggies home game was complete without Courtney cheering from the stands.
Courtney Faye Roland / Twitter
But it wasn’t until she began attending Texas A&M that Courtney realized sports could become a real option for her as a career. Graduating with degrees in journalism and communications, it wasn’t long before Courtney found a way to combine her skills and passion into one.
After working as a sports intern at KPRC Click 2 Houston, Courtney landed a reporter job with Rivals.com, allowing her to establish a firm footing in the sports world. Over the next few years, she continued padding her resume with reporting jobs and began hosting an outdoor program for Mossy Oak.
Football, however, remained Courtney’s biggest focus, leading her to seek out reporting jobs for both local high schools as well as for her alma mater. But while Courtney was already known for her writing and reporting work, she was about to make headlines for a far more unsettling reason.
On Saturday, January 6, 2018, witnesses say they spotted Courtney leaving a Team Texas Elite football tryout in an Uber. She apparently made it back to her Houston apartment, as according to her roommate, Courtney’s car was missing when she returned home later that night.
It wasn’t until sometime after midnight that the roommate finally received a text from Courtney, though the message was anything but comforting. According to Courtney, a blue truck had been following her ever since she left their local Walgreens.
The roommate tried to get more information from Courtney, but after texting about the truck, she stopped answering. Believing Courtney’s phone had died, the roommate decided to stay put and wait for her to return home.
When the sun came up that Sunday morning, Courtney was still nowhere to be found. The roommate reached out to Courtney’s family to break the news of their daughter’s disappearance, and at 5:30 that afternoon, they filed a missing persons report.
Police immediately set to work to find Courtney, though by this point, there was no telling where she could’ve gone or what may have happened to her. Desperate, Courtney’s family reached out to KHOU11 to relay a plea for their daughter’s safe return.
“If somebody has her, we just want to tell them that we love you too,” said Courtney’s father, Steve. “And I know Courtney would be praying for you because that’s the way she was. She cared about other people.”
Michelle Choi / Twitter
Despite the Roland family’s statement, no one came forward with information about Courtney’s whereabouts. As Sunday rolled into Monday, the prospect of finding the missing reporter only seemed to grow further out of reach.
Courtney Faye Roland / Twitter
But the Houston PD wasn’t ready to give up the search just yet. As they scoured the area where Courtney had last been seen, they made a breakthrough: parked outside the local Galleria shopping mall was Courtney’s car.
Inside the vehicle were all of Courtney’s personal belongings, including her phone, which indeed had died at some point after her final text to her roommate. But if all of the 29-year-old’s possessions were here, where was Courtney?
By now, news of the reporter’s disappearance had spread throughout the community, leaving most on high alert. That’s why even as one patron at a nearby Chick-Fil-A snacked on their breakfast, they couldn’t help but notice a familiar-looking blond wandering around outside.
The woman appeared confused, disoriented, almost as if she were looking for something. Believing her to be the missing reporter, the customer immediately called police to the restaurant.
When they arrived, however, the woman was nowhere in sight. That’s when the officers received another call: apparently, the same disoriented individual was now wandering down the busy I-610 interstate!
Rushing to the scene, the officers discovered the woman huddled under an overpass. They approached her, and although she was clearly out of it, she still knew exactly who she was — Courtney Roland.
The missing woman was immediately taken to the Houston Methodist Medical Center where she was left to recover for the next five days. Then, that Friday, Courtney issued a statement to the community that finally explained what had gone wrong that fateful night.
“After undergoing five days of extensive testing, doctors determined I suffered an adverse reaction to my prescription medication,” Courtney tweeted. “I am doing much better and look forward to returning back to work covering Texas A&M football for Rivals.com when the time is right.”
By mid-2019, Courtney returned to the sidelines. Able to put the situation behind her, she didn’t feel embarrassed; she knew plenty of others faced situations like hers. Laura Lynne Stacy, for instance, never expected her career could put her in danger, yet in January 2017, one incident changed everything for her.
A graduate of Colorado State University, Laura knew exactly what she wanted to do in life. Taking a job as a real estate agent had long been the goal for this smart dreamer.
Laura found immediate success in the local real estate game, but the lure of the luxury markets – and hefty commissions – of California eventually became too much to resist. And so, Laura hopped a plane and made her way to the bright lights and opportunities of Los Angeles.
The Denver Post
Despite being far from home, Laura always made sure to keep in touch with her family and even some of the clients she had worked with during her time in Colorado. Her parents Marcy and Steve didn’t mind the distance at first… until one day Laura didn’t text back.
os♥to / Flickr
The first unanswered message didn’t raise any red flags, but when Marcy’s follow-up texts produced no response she knew something wasn’t right. Even texts from her siblings and friends in Colorado were met with an eerie and unusual silence.
Marcy and Steve waited, hoping that Laura had misplaced or even broken her phone, anything to explain their daughter’s lack of communication. Sure enough, Marcy received a text from Laura’s phone later that day. But there was just one problem: it wasn’t Laura.
Daniel Kulinski / Flickr
The individual on the other end of the line explained to the worried parents that they’d found Laura’s phone at Golden Valley Park in Santa Clarita, a full 30 miles from Laura’s apartment in Los Angeles. This was all Marcy and Steve needed to hear to take action.
No sooner did they hang up the phone that the couple raced to Los Angeles. Their fears were confirmed when they visited Laura’s apartment to speak with her roommate: she hadn’t seen or heard from her since the day before.
Los Angeles Daily News
Laura’s parents immediately phoned the police, who, along with several of the missing girl’s friends, began a search of the area between Los Angeles and Santa Clarita. They even brought in off-road vehicles, and they didn’t stop there…
The police also deployed a helicopter. The chopper quickly spotted a vehicle matching the description of Laura’s parked on the side of a highway in Antelope Valley, but when the search party converged on the car, the missing girl was nowhere to be found.
It was Laura’s car for sure, but Marcy had no idea what her daughter would be doing on the edge of the Mojave Desert. After breaking into the vehicle, the police found no sign of foul play. Everyone was stumped.
One theory posited that Laura’s car had broken down while she was on her way to show a home. With no auto shops or gas stations for miles, she likely hitched a ride with a passing driver. But that didn’t explain everything.
The biggest mystery was the fact that her phone was discovered miles from where her car was found. With her vehicle broken down and no phone to call for help, would this young woman really have taken a chance by getting into a car with a complete stranger?
“It’s been a nightmare and I just want to be woken up from a bad dream,” said Marcy after several days of futile searching. “A lot of people love her and [are] praying for her and want her home safely.”
Santa Clarita Valley Signal
Then, on Wednesday afternoon, the LAPD made a miraculous discovery. Just three days after her disappearance, Laura Stacy was found wandering along the side of a nearby freeway. She appeared in good health, but after speaking with her for just a few moments something seemed… off…
The American Southwest
According to police, Laura was out of sorts when they approached her, describing her as “somewhat disoriented” and “confused.” Not only that, but it also appeared that she was suffering from exposure, even despite being fully clothed.
Marcy and Steve were quick to rush Laura to the nearest hospital, where doctors went to work evaluating her mental state while also attempting to get to the bottom of her strange disappearance. In the meanwhile, Laura’s parents issued a statement thanking those who had aided them in their search.
Center for Health Journalism
“Specifically, we would like to thank the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for their swift response, the LASD Volunteer Search and Rescue team and local volunteers who came out to search,” said Marcy.
Los Angeles Daily News
In the end, the Stacys have decided to keep the truth behind what happened to their daughter out of the media. Citing their desire to quietly deal with their trauma and the potential medical issues that Laura may face, the family has asked for privacy during this trying time.
“Our daughter’s physical condition is currently being evaluated by medical professionals, and we await the results,” Marcy and Steve told local reporters. “Our family is not in a position to grant interviews at this time and, as a result, we respectfully request privacy…”
But one questions remains: what really happened to Laura Lynne Stacy? While some believe that an emotional breakdown brought on by the stress of her work may have led to her disappearance, we may never truly know what happened to the 28-year-old real estate agent on that fateful day.
NBC Los Angeles
Unfortunately, this is hardly the only time a young woman has suddenly vanished. On March 24, 1998, 23-year-old Amy Lynn Bradley and her family boarded a cruise ship to the Caribbean. What was supposed to be a vacation quickly turned into a nightmare…
The cruise ship was packed with other tourists eager to enjoy their vacations, too. The Bradleys—Amy; her father, Ron; mother, Iva; and brother, Brad—boarded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with their first stop in Aruba. Then, their ship departed for the island of Curacao.
While en route to Curacao, Amy and Brad went to a nightclub. Brad left first, and Amy soon followed suit. Around 5:30 a.m., Ron checked on his daughter, who was asleep. He returned at 6 a.m. to wake her up. To Ron’s shock, Amy was nowhere to be found.
Amy’s bed was empty, and Ron immediately panicked. Where could his daughter have gone within the half-hour window? He immediately spoke to Brad about the previous night’s events…
Brad told his father he saw Amy dancing with a man named Alister Douglas, nicknamed “Yellow,” before he left. He was a member of the band Blue Orchid that was performing at the club that night. Could he have played a role in Amy’s disappearance?
Ron and Iva immediately alerted the cruise ship authorities to Amy’s sudden disappearance. They pleaded with them not to dock the ship, fearing anyone involved would escape. Unfortunately, the crew denied their request, and the ship docked in Curacao as planned.
Once docked, authorities checked the ship, but they came up empty-handed. Police even questioned Alister, the last man seen with Amy, but there wasn’t enough evidence to detain him. The family was frustrated that many of the passengers had departed the ship before the search was over. If Amy was kidnapped, her captors could’ve easily escaped.
Police immediately issued a missing persons alert for Amy. People all over the island of Curacao were made aware of the situation, and her family desperately hoped someone would come forward with any information.
Authorities wondered whether Amy, intoxicated, might’ve fallen overboard after she left the club, but there was no evidence to support that theory. The Bradleys were devastated, and without any information about Amy’s whereabouts, they were forced to return home without their daughter.
Although there was no evidence to support the claim, Amy’s parents firmly believed she was abducted. Brad noted that the cruise ship employees seemed to give her “extra” attention while she was in the club. Upon returning home, the Bradleys used every outlet possible to let the world know what happened, and the community rallied around them.
Shortly after they returned home, Ron and Brad flew back to Curacao to continue the search for Amy. While on the island, the men posted flyers of Amy everywhere. They were offering $260,000 to anyone who could help them find her.
Amazingly, within 24 hours, a taxi driver on the island told the men he saw Amy in a frantic state just minutes after the Rhapsody of the Seas docked. She allegedly ran up to his car window and asked where the nearest telephone was, and then she ran off. Her family was now convinced she was still somewhere in Curacao.
With the help of local police, Ron and Brad scoured the entire island. They checked every hotel, store, and beach, but Amy was nowhere to be found. Disappointed and distraught, they had no choice but to return home yet again without Amy.
As time passed, more people came forward with stories about spotting Amy, which only strengthened the Bradley family’s certainty that she was kidnapped. They feared she was in the Caribbean being held against her will…
In one such “sighting,” two Canadian tourists visiting Curacao believed they spotted Amy walking along the beach. The woman they saw had the same tattoos: the Tasmanian Devil spinning a basketball on her shoulder, a sun on her lower back, a gecko lizard on her navel, and a Chinese symbol located on her right ankle.
In another, a man named David Carmichael said he saw a woman who matched Amy’s description walking along the beach flanked by two men. When she approached David, he said, the men hustled her away. The Bradley family had local police search the area where the alleged encounter took place, but they found nothing.
Another man from the Navy reportedly saw Amy inside a Curacao brothel. He said a woman approached him and said her name was Amy Bradley and she needed help, but she was quickly whisked away by brothel workers. Because the sailor wasn’t supposed to be in the brothel, he didn’t immediately go to the police. The brothel has since burned down.
There was another possible sighting of Amy in a restroom in Barbados. A tourist named Judy Maurer claimed to have run into the woman, who looked terrified. However, Judy quickly left, and she never saw the woman again.
Then, in 2005, an anonymous source emailed the Bradley family photos of a scantily-clad woman who supposedly was their daughter. Detectives, however, couldn’t track down the original source, but the family saw the pictures as evidence Amy was, in fact, forced into sexual slavery.
All of these leads have given the Bradleys hope that Amy will one day return home. They hired a private investigator in Curacao, and he made it his mission to find her. Until he does, the family thinks about her every day and will continue to keep her memory alive.