Monday, April 23, 2012

Family, sheriff's office ask for tips in vanishing of Rocky Mount woman

Heather Hodges

Franklin County Sheriff's Office

Heather Hodges

ROCKY MOUNT – The two-week absence of a missing Franklin County woman is unprecedented, her family and law enforcement said today.

Heather Hodges, 22, of Rocky Mount, was last seen April 9. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Hodges family held a news conference today asking the public to come forward with tips. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 483-3000.

Family and friends have not heard from her during that period, which is unusual, said Crystal Hodges, Heather Hodges’ sister.

“We are extremely worried about her well-being and safety,” Hodges said. “Heather has never been gone for this long without contacting family or friends.”

All of the tips of sightings of Heather Hodges were from people who reported seeing her before April 11, Sheriff Bill Overton said today.

According to the sheriff’s office, Heather Hodges’ boyfriend, Paul Jordan, 39, last saw her about 10:30 p.m. April 9. He told police that he left the residence they shared in Rocky Mount for about 10 minutes and that she was not there when he returned.  Family members told police they last saw her about 6:30 that morning when her sister dropped her off at home.

Crystal Hodges described her sister as a dedicated mother to her 2-year-old daughter, with an “energetic and bubbly personality.”

“Heather, we love you and we want you home as soon as possible,” Hodges said.

There have been dozens of leads, and police dogs, helicopters and the Search Water Rescue Team has combed the Blackwater River, “No tip or possible sighting is too small for us to follow up on,” said Lt. Todd Maxey of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Hodges “abrupt leaving” is a cause for concern, Overton said.

“Certainly Heather has left in the past but certainly not for this length of time and even during those times when she left the immediate area she did keep in contact with her family or those watching over her daughter,” Overton said.

This is not a criminal investigation, but a missing person investigation, Overton said.

Hodges previous criminal history – she is a convicted felon – is not being considered as a factor in the disappearance, Maxey said.

“I’m trying to find her, not prosecute her,” Maxey said.

According to court records, Hodges was found guilty of felony grand larceny in May 2008 and sentenced to three years in jail, with all but six months suspended.

When she was released from jail that October, Hodges was given conditional probation given that she move to Nebraska to live with her mother, Paula Hodges. But she did not report to the probation office or her mother’s and had no verbal communication, records stated, so she was sentenced to 90 days in jail in January 2009.
She was released from probation for good behavior in June 2010, court records stated.

And on April 5, a warrant was file in Franklin County General District Court by Paula Hodges  against Jordan claiming assault and battery, but the sheriff’s office and family say that’s unrelated to Heather Hodges’ disappearance.

“We’re not investigating that as part of the missing persons report,” Maxey has said.

The warrant states that when Paula Hodges went to her daughter’s home on April 5, she and Jordan began arguing and he hit Paula Hodges with chairs and a metal object and went after her with a baseball bat. The warrant states that Paula Hodges ran to the bathroom, then out of the house.

Jordan was charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from the incident and is due in court in May, according to court records.

Heather Hodges is white with blond hair and blue eyes, is 5 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 100 pounds, the sheriff’s office said.

To read a previous story about the case, click here.

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