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The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said the case continues to be an active investigation.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Heather Hodges disappeared nearly a year ago from the residence she shared in Franklin County with a man described as her boyfriend.
Investigators suspect foul play might have been involved in Hodges' disappearance. She was 22 years old at the time and had a 2-year-old daughter. Hodges was last seen April 9.
Lt. Todd Maxey of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that Hodges' case continues to be an active investigation.
"We still have leads we're working on," Maxey said.
Friends and family held a fundraiser Saturday to benefit a reward fund for information about Hodges' disappearance.
Wendy Nichols, a friend who hosted the event in Callaway, said about 30 people attended.
The group raised $340, Nichols said, with a combination of activities such as a silent auction.
In mid-June, Sheriff Bill Overton announced that Hodges' missing person case had become a criminal investigation. On Thursday, Maxey reiterated what Overton said then.
"We found some evidence that indicated there was a violent event related to the time she went missing," Maxey said.
He declined to say more.
Crystal Hodges, 28, Heather's sister, said Friday that the family would have heard from Heather if she still was alive.
"Something terrible has happened to my sister, and I'm not going to give up until I find out what happened and bring her home," she said.
Overton said in June that there was "a person of interest" in the case. Maxey said Thursday that there remains a person of interest possibly linked to Hodges' disappearance but would not say more.
Authorities have said that Hodges' boyfriend, Paul "Scooter" Jordan , who was 39 years old at the time, told investigators that he had last seen Hodges on April 9 about 10:30 p.m. at the home the couple shared on Shady Lane off U.S. 220 near Rocky Mount.
Jordan reportedly said that he had left the residence to go to the Dairy Queen at the corner of U.S. 220 and Wirtz Road to buy Hodges a Blizzard and that when he returned she was gone.
Maxey declined to comment about whether investigators have confirmed that Jordan visited the Dairy Queen that night.
Earlier that day, about 6:30 a.m., Crystal Hodges had dropped off Heather at the Shady Lane residence after Heather had spent a few nights with her family.
On April 11, Jordan reported Hodges missing. The couple lived in a double-wide mobile home near the Blackwater River, Crystal Hodges said.
Maxey said resources used in the initial searches for Hodges included a helicopter from the Virginia State Police, a bloodhound from the sheriff's office, a civilian handler's cadaver dog, search teams from the county's Department of Public Safety and the county's Swift Water Rescue Team. He said the rescue team searched a portion of the Blackwater River with a raft with the cadaver dog aboard.
Crystal Hodges said Heather was not working at the time she disappeared because the sisters had inherited some money from a grandmother. She said Heather had previously worked as a waitress and had gone to school to become a pharmacy technician before changing her focus to study criminal justice.
"Heather was beautiful, inside and out," Crystal Hodges said. "She was bubbly. She stood her ground when she believed in something. "
The couple's daughter lives now with Jordan's family, Crystal Hodges said. He could not be reached for comment.
Court records show that Jordan, now 40 years old, has a criminal history that includes both felony and misdemeanor convictions. In July, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after Paula Hodges, mother of Heather and Crystal, swore out a warrant reporting that Jordan had assaulted her April 5, 2012, just a few days before Heather's disappearance. Paula Hodges' hand written account of the assault said it happened at the residence on Shady Lane and reported that Jordan had hit her with a chair and metal toys and had chased her with a baseball bat before she was able to escape the house.
Maxey said Thursday that investigators do not believe the assault of Paula Hodges is connected to Heather's disappearance.
Crystal Hodges said Heather told her about two months before she disappeared that if something happened to her, Crystal should never stop looking for her.
Heather Hodges has been described as a white female with blond hair and blue eyes who is about 5 feet and 1 inch tall and weighs about 100 pounds. On her lower back there is a tattoo of the word "Tink."
Anyone with information about Hodges' case is encouraged to call the Franklin County's Sheriff's Office at 540 -483-3000.
Staff writer Zach Crizer contributed to this report.
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