Saturday, November 18, 2023

The Disappearance of Sage Smith

Sage Smith disappeared under suspicious circumstances on November 20th, 2012. Prior to vanishing, the 19-year-old was making a lot of positive changes in her life. Sage grew up in the foster care system, and reportedly had a very tumultuous childhood. Things were beginning to turn around in the fall of 2012—Sage was no longer a part of the foster system, so she was able to move into her own place in Charlottesville, Virginia. She had recently gotten a new job in that area, and she was looking forward to her future. 

Sage also had recently come out to her family and friends as transgender. Just weeks before her disappearance, Sage changed her gender on her Facebook page from male to female. According to Sage’s grandmother Lolita Smith, Sage was reportedly very happy to be living her truth.

On the evening she was last seen, Sage told her roommate, Aubrey Carson, that she planned to meet up with a man—possibly for a date—whom she had met online. That man was later identified as Erik McFadden (pictured below).

Aubrey grew concerned the following morning, when he awoke to find that Sage had not returned home. He tried calling Sage, but her phone went straight to voicemail. Aubrey then called Sage’s grandmother, Lolita. After learning that Lolita had not heard from Sage either, Aubrey called the Charlottesville police.

Erik McFadden

By the time authorities determined that Sage had met up with a man named Erik McFadden, they were unable to locate him. In fact, McFadden’s girlfriend ended up reporting him missing on November 24th—just four days after Sage was last seen. At that point, investigators became tasked with locating both Sage and their only person of interest in Sage's case.


McFadden contacts the authorities.

At first, it appeared that McFadden was on the run. However, he ended up contacting Charlottesville authorities three days after he was reported missing. McFadden told them that he did plan to meet up with Sage on the evening of November 20th, but Sage never showed up. 

Still, investigators asked McFadden to meet with them in person. He told them that he couldn’t because he was in New York. When investigators asked him when he would be back, he hung up.

A changed story.

Although it appeared McFadden himself was trying to avoid contact with authorities, his girlfriend continued to cooperate with the investigation. She told police that McFadden planned to take a bus back to Charlottesville on November 29th. The next day, though, McFadden changed his mind. He sent his girlfriend an e-mail saying that Sage was blackmailing him by threatening to tell people that the two of them had sex. 

McFadden also stated that he did meet up with Sage on the night of November 20th, but he did not know what happened to her. This version of events clearly differed from the story that McFadden told authorities, and he was officially classified as a person of interest after that. 

Case reclassification.

Unfortunately, investigators have never been able to question McFadden in person. He reportedly has never returned to Charlottesville, and the last sign of him was an e-mail he sent to his girlfriend in May 2013, from an untraceable e-mail address.

The Charlottesville Police are still actively investigating Sage’s disappearance. In 2016, the investigation was reclassified as a homicide. Three years later, on June 26th, 2019, police announced that they officially filed a missing persons' report for Erik McFadden. To this day, McFadden remains the only person of interest/suspect in the case. 

A $20,000 reward is in place for any information that could lead to Sage’s whereabouts and/or an arrest in the case. If you have any information about Sage and/or Erik McFadden’s whereabouts, please contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280.

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