-- When a Popular Sports Reporter Went Missing, a Stranger's Tip Led Cops to the Most Unlikely Places To Find Her

 It’s frightening to think that across the US, people go missing every day. In fact, more than 100,000 people are reported missing each year. And in many of these cases, the search is a fairly straightforward matter for police. But other times it needs information from the public to solve the mystery.

This is the story of a young woman from Houston, Texas, who failed to return home after work one day. Police conducting the search had run out of leads until a single clue from a restaurant diner blew the case wide open.  

The Football Fan

This is the story of Courtney Roland, a young woman from Texas. Like many natives of her state, sport was in her blood – she practically ate, slept and breathed sports. And in particular, she loved football.

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As a student at Texas A&M University, she began to follow her college football team, eventually becoming one of their biggest fans. When they played their home games, she could always be found front and center, cheering them on.

A Career In Sports

Although Courtney had always loved sports, she considered it more of a hobby, and never thought about doing anything sports-related as a career. But when she began to attend Texas A&M University, she began to think differently about her future prospects. 

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The degrees she undertook were in journalism and communications, but Courtney began to realize that these subjects could have applications in other areas. And so she started to seek out ways of bringing her passion and her skills together.

Finding Her Way

The first step on this new journey for Courtney was a sports internship at a local television station, KPRC Click 2 Houston. This small role led to her next break, a reporter job with Rivals.com, a website that covers college football and basketball recruiting. 

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Her Moments

It was this position that established Courtney firmly in the world of sports, and led to a number of reporting jobs over the next few years. With all this experience on her resume, she was able to successfully land a job as host of an outdoor program for Mossy Oak.

Her Passion Remained

These sporting and lifestyle jobs were a great move forward for Courtney and her career, and there’s no doubt she would continue to make strides in these fields. But her love of football remained at the forefront.

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To keep in touch with this passion, she continued to take jobs as a football reporter for both her old college and for local high schools. She became well known locally for her reporting and sports writing, but little did she know she was about to become famous for a very different reason.

The Mystery Begins

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This mysterious series of events began on January 6, 2018. That Saturday, the tryouts for the Team Texas Elite football were being held. Courtney attended the event and was seen by several witnesses leaving in an Uber after the tryouts.

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Although no one saw her arrive home, it appeared that she did so successfully. When her roommate came back to the apartment later that night, Courtney’s car was gone and she assumed that Courtney had picked it up after the tryouts.

A Troubling Text Message

There was no reason for Courtney’s roommate to believe that anything was amiss, and assumed the young reporter was simply out for the evening. However, all of that changed when sometime after midnight, the roommate received a troubling text message.

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The message was something of a shock and had worrying implications. Courtney revealed to her roommate that she had been at the local Walgreens, but as she was leaving, she realized she was being followed by a blue truck.

Silence From Courtney

Of course, upon receiving this disturbing news, Courtney’s roommate was eager to get as much information about the events as possible. She immediately texted back hoping to find all she could about the blue truck.

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But despite the efforts of the roommate, there was no more to be heard from Courtney. If fact, the initial message was the last one that she sent. The roommate was calm and simply assumed Courtney’s phone battery had gone dead and decided the best thing she could do was wait for her arrival home.

The Police Get Involved

While waiting for Courtney to return home, the roommate had fallen asleep. So it wasn’t until the sun came up the next morning she realized that there was still no sign of the young woman or her car.

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It was at this point that she accepted there was cause for some serious concern. Fearing the worst, she thought she had no choice but to reach out to Courtney’s family and let them know all that had happened. Later that afternoon, with still no news of their daughter, the family filed a missing persons report.

Her Family Reaches Out

Once the missing persons report had been made, local police immediately began their search for the young woman. Apart from the text that the roommate had received, there was no clue as to where Courtney might be or what might have happened to her.

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By this stage, her parents were obviously distressed and desperate for answers. Although they knew the police were on the case, they felt that they had to do something to help. So, they reached out to local television station KHOU11 to make a public plea for Courtney’s return.

A Heartfelt Plea

Knowing that his message was being relayed to the greater public, Courtney’s father Steve began by showing compassion for his daughter’s possible captor, “If somebody has her, we just want to tell them that we love you too."

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He then continued, "And I know Courtney would be praying for you because that's the way she was. She cared about other people." With this message, he hoped to inspire some empathy with anyone who was keeping Courtney against her will.

Still No Sign

But if the family had hoped that this message would provide the dramatic release of their daughter, they were going to be disappointed. Despite the broadcast, there was no helpful information from the public that would help determine Courtney's whereabouts.

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As more time passed with still no sign of the young reporter, both the family and the police began to grow increasingly worried. And as Sunday rolled into Monday, they knew that the chances of finding her safe were becoming more unlikely.

A Clue At Last

Despite the challenges that faced them, the local police remained determined to discover what had happened. In their search for answers, they once again returned to the places where Courtney was last known to have been.

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This vigilance paid off for the Houston PD. By combing the area around where they knew she had been, they finally made a breakthrough in the case. In the parking lot outside the local Galleria shopping mall, they found the young woman’s car.

The Car Is Empty

Unfortunately, this discovery didn’t provide the happy end to the story that they were expecting. Inside the car, they found all of Courtney’s personal belongings, but there was no sign of the car’s owner.

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They found her cellphone, which indeed had gone dead sometime after that last text message to her roommate. But what could have prompted Courtney to leave her car, her phone, and all of her other belongings behind? And why hadn’t she returned home?

An Unlikely Sighting

After the broadcast of the family’s message on television, and the normal way that news spreads by word of mouth, by now the whole local community knew about Courtney’s disappearance, meaning many people were on high alert.

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One person in particular had their eyes open that morning. A customer at a nearby Chick-Fil-A was just eating their breakfast when they spotted someone familiar looking. A young blonde woman matching Courtney’s description was wandering around outside the restaurant.

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In A Daze

As this sharp-eyed customer continued to watch the young woman walk around, they realized that something wasn’t quite right. She appeared to be disoriented and confused, and almost as if she was looking for something.

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This strange behavior, along with the woman’s appearance, led this early morning diner to believe that they were looking at none other than Courtney Roland. They phoned the police, asking them to come to the restaurant straight away.

Another Sighting

Even though the police arrived quickly, by the time they got there, the young woman was nowhere to be seen. They began to search the area around the restaurant, wondering where she could have got to so quickly.

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However as they were still looking, they received another piece of good luck. A call came through from someone else who believed they had spotted the missing reporter. This time, it was the report of a disoriented young woman matching Courtney’s description on the nearby I-610 interstate.

The Young Woman Found

They wasted no time in getting to the scene of where she was last spotted, fearing that she may again have wandered off before they could arrive. However this time their luck held, as they spotted someone huddled under an overpass.

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Even as they approached her, they knew they had found their missing young woman alive and well. Although she was in some kind of a stupor, she could still remember her name and confirmed to the police that she was in fact Courtney Roland.

Sent to the Hospital

Now that they hand safely located the missing reporter, the most important thing was to give her a full health check to make sure her ordeal had not caused her any temporary or permanent damage. 

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She was taken directly to the Houston Methodist Medical Center for observation, and here she remained for the next five days, recovering. It wasn’t until Friday that Courtney was finally well enough to release a statement to the public, explaining what she has been through on that weekend.

The Road To Recovery

She issued her statement on her personal Twitter account, explaining, "After undergoing five days of extensive testing, doctors determined I suffered an adverse reaction to my prescription medication."

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She went on to reassure her followers that she was on the mend and looking forward to getting back to her normal life, tweeting, "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." 

She's Not Alone

Although her experience had been somewhat dramatic, the fact that she had not been harmed made it reasonably easy to get on with her life. She was in the spotlight for some time, but finally returned to the sidelines by mid-2019.

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Sadly, this story is far from unusual, and many other young women go missing. Laura Lynne Stacy is one such person, whose life changed very suddenly one day in January 2017, and all because of her career.

A Career In Real Estate

Just like Courtney, Laura was another smart young woman with her eyes on a successful future. She had graduated from Colorado State University, already knowing what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

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She had always planned to get into real estate, and for this young woman she was lucky enough to find a position in her field upon graduation. She took up a role as an agent for a local Colorado agency.

Her Ambitious Goals

Although she found success in this first role within real estate, Laura had her sights set on something bigger. For this young woman, she wanted to break into the luxury market, and enjoy the hefty commissions that came with the work.

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And for a young woman from Colorado, she knew the best place to seek out these luxe positions was California. So she packed her bags and made the move for the bright lights of Los Angeles and all of the opportunities she could find there.

The First Sign Of Trouble

As Laura settled into her new home, she was careful not to forget where she had come from and all that she had left behind. The young woman always made a habit of staying in touch with her family, and even some of her clients from her first job.

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Thought the distance was great, her parents Steve and Marcy found it easy enough to cope with the regular communication. Until one day when they texted their daughter and didn’t receive a reply.

An Unusual Silence

Although this was slightly unusual behavior for the young woman, Marcy and Steve found no reason to be concerned at first. But as more time passed with no reply, and when they received no response to follow-up messages, they knew something was amiss.

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Growing increasingly concerned, her parents began to ask around other family members and friends in Colorado. And it turns out they weren’t alone – nobody who knew Laura in their local area had heard anything from the young woman or had only silence in response to their messages.

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The Unexpected Message

While they were becoming more frustrated and concerned, they also realized there was nothing they could do but wait and hope for a response. They tried to remain calm during this time, considering any logical explanations. Perhaps, they thought, her phone was broken or had been stolen.

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Later that day they received a message that should have put their minds at ease. However, there was just one problem: although the text came from Laura’s phone, it wasn’t from Laura.

Worrying News

Laura’s parents called the phone straight away and instead of hearing their daughter, they found themselves speaking to a stranger. And that stranger had some worrying news to deliver: they had the phone, but there was no sign of Laura.

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The individual went on to explain that they had come across the cellphone while in Golden Valley Park in Santa Clarita. Given that the park was more than 30 miles from Laura’s home in Los Angeles, the parents knew that something wasn’t adding up.

Fears Are Confirmed

This unexpected call was all that Steve and Marcy needed to spring into action. As soon as they got off the phone, Laura’s parents made arrangements to travel to Los Angeles, not having any idea what they would find when they got there.

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Unfortunately, they weren’t met with good news. Upon arriving in LA and heading to their daughter’s apartment, they discovered that her roommate had not seen or heard anything from the young woman since the day before.

The Search Begins

Hearing this disturbing news, Laura’s parents realized they could not afford any further delays and phone the police immediately. Although they knew that the police would have the best chance and finding their daughter, they didn’t want to stand by idly.

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Steve and Marcy found the phone numbers for their daughter’s friends in Los Angeles and called to enlist their help. They all joined the police in conducting a search of the area in between her home in Los Angeles and Santa Clarita where her phone had been found.

A Clue in the Case

Although they had brought in off-road vehicles to help with the search on any difficult terrain, it wasn’t until the police employed a helicopter that they were rewarded with some results. This eye in the sky spotted a car parked by the side of the road in Antelope Valley.

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Confirming that the car left by the highway matched the description of that of the young woman, the search party rushed to the location. But when they arrived, there was no sign of the missing girl.

Still No Answers

This discovery should have been a breakthrough in the case, but instead, it left everyone with more questions than answers. It was definitely Laura’s car, but no one had any idea why she would have been driving at the edge of the Mojave Desert.

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The vehicle was still locked, which was something of a good sign. Looking for some more answers, the police broke into the car, but even then they found no sign of foul play.

Police Theories

The search party was at a loss to explain the situation but tried to think of all the possibilities that could have occurred. One logical explanation was that the car had broken down while Laura was driving between house viewings.

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In the area surrounding where the car was found, there were no gas stations or auto shops, so in the case of a breakdown, Laura would have been forced to leave her car and try to find a ride with a stranger.

The Mystery of the Phone

But however likely this explanation seemed, it still didn’t explain everything. The first mystery was her cell phone, which was found so far away from the car. And which one had been abandoned first?

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Secondly, how desperate would Laura have been to get into a car with a stranger? Even if her car was broken and if she had already lost her phone, this was a smart young woman who would not be likely to take lifts from someone she didn’t know.

The Family's Distress

Laura’s family were at their wit's end, exhausted after several days of searching for their daughter without results. Her mother Marcy explained, "It’s been a nightmare and I just want to be woken up from a bad dream."

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Distressed, she continued, "A lot of people love her and [are] praying for her and want her home safely." After this troubling ordeal, it was lucky they would not have to wait much longer until they received some news.

Laura Is Spotted

It was on Wednesday afternoon that the case finally broke. The police made a miraculous discovery that would finally allow the Stacy family to get some relief from the nightmare they had been experiencing.

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The LAPD made a miraculous discovery when they found the young woman wandering along the side of a local freeway. Despite being missing for three days, Laura appeared to be in good health and unharmed.

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Something Is Wrong

However, as they approached the young missing woman, police remarked that something seemed not quite right. Laura appeared to be out of sorts, and officers described her as being confused and somewhat disoriented. 

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Upon closer examination, they discovered that there were some physical problems and well as mental ones. Despite being fully clothed at the time they found her walking along the highway, Laura seemed to be suffering from exposure after her time away from home.

Rushed to the Hospital

Laura’s parents were understandably frantic to have their daughter back with them, but they knew the most important thing was to make sure that she was alright, both physically and mentally, so they rushed her to the nearest hospital.

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While the young woman was recovering, doctors got to work on evaluating her mental state. They also tried to figure out just what had happened to her during the days that she was missing and help solve the mystery for her family.

Her Family's Thanks

While Laura was still in the hospital, her parents went public with their heartfelt thanks to everyone who had assisted during the search.  Marcy Stacy announced, "Specifically, we would like to thank the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for their swift response.”

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She went on to say that she and the whole Stacy family had been touched by the response from “the LASD Volunteer Search and Rescue team and local volunteers who came out to search."

What Had Happened?

Although the doctors at the hospital no doubt made a full evaluation of Laura’s condition, we will sadly never know what really happened during those three days. In the end, the Stacys decided not to share the truth with the media or the public.

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They did however go public with a statement to this effect. They expressed their wishes for privacy during a difficult time, explaining that Laura needed to deal with the trauma and medical issues without public scrutiny.

A Request for Privacy

Their statement from the hospital began, “Our daughter’s physical condition is currently being evaluated by medical professionals, and we await the results." They continued, "Our family is not in a position to grant interviews at this time and, as a result, we respectfully request privacy…" 

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This statement, issued to local reporters by Marcy and Steve was the last the public were to hear from the Stacy family. While it is understandable that they needed privacy, the public wanted to know the truth.

The Questions Remain

So while Laura is now thankfully safe and sound, there are still questions that remain around her disappearance and the events that may have led up to it. Many have speculated that the stress of her work became too much and led to an emotional breakdown.

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While this is perhaps a very likely scenario, it still does not explain why she left her car or how her cellphone ended up so far away. And without further information from her family, we will never know.

Amy Lynn Bradley

Sadly, the newspapers are filled with similar stories of young women who disappear. And sometimes these frightening occurrences can happen in the most unlikely of places. Like the events that followed March 24, 1998.

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On this fateful day, a 23-year-old woman named Amy Lynn Bradley walked onboard a cruise ship, looking forward to a holiday in the Caribbean with her family. But what began as a  dream vacation would go on to be a nightmare for everyone involved. 

The Vacation Begins

The young woman was joined by her other family members: her father Ron, her mother Iva, and her brother Brad. The cruise ship was filled with other families just like hers, all eagerly anticipating a relaxing time in the Caribbean.

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The Bradley family stepped on board the ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The first stop on their cruise was Aruba, which passed without event, before their ship headed for the next destination: the island of Curacao.

A Night of Fun

With the ship making its slow journey across the ocean, the passengers on board were free to enjoy all that the cruise had to offer. The kids, Amy and Bradley, decided to try one of the ship’s nightclubs.

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After spending some time there, Brad decided to go back to the cabin, with Amy following closely behind. Their father Ron checked in on Amy around 5:30 am and found Amy sleeping soundly, but when he went to wake her at 6:00 am, her bed was empty.

The Disappearance

With Amy nowhere to be seen, Ron Bradley was shocked and confused. What could possibly have happened to her in the 30 minutes between his first check on his daughter and the second one?

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With rising panic, Amy’s father was still at a loss for answers and woke his son Brad. He immediately began to grill the young man about everything that had happened during the time they spent in the nightclub.

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Who Was That Man?

Although Brad could not explain where his sister had gone or what had happened to her, he told his father everything he could about the previous night. One of the things he remembered was Amy dancing with a man just as Brad was leaving to return to the cabin.

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The man in question was actually a part of the house band Blue Orchid, who had provided the entertainment at the club. This man was named Alister Douglas, but usually went by the nickname “Yellow”.

The Family's Request

This immediately brought the question to mind: could this man know the whereabouts of their daughter? Fearing for the worst, the Bradley parents immediately told the ship’s authorities what had happened.

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They hoped that by alerting the crew, they could stall the ship from docking at its next stop. If Amy was still somewhere on board, and if anyone was responsible for her disappearance, they would remain trapped on the ship. Unfortunately, the crew denied this request and continued with the planned stop at Curacao. 

Searching the Ship

The authorities did make some effort to find the young woman, conducting a careful search of the ship once it had docked. But as many of the passengers had already been allowed to disembark, this seemed like something of a pointless exercise.

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The police of course questioned the man Alister who had been seen dancing with Amy shortly before she returned to her cabin for the last time. However, there was not enough evidence to detain him and he was free to go.

Police Alerts

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With this lead exhausted, and no sign of Amy anywhere on the ship, the police realized they had no choice but to issue a missing persons report for the young woman.

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The report was broadcast over the island of Curacao, which was the only place Amy could have successfully left the ship after her disappearance. Police and the family hoped that someone would be able to come forward with information that might provide them with some clues.

Could She Have Drowned?

There was another scenario that the police were considering, however, one that did not include foul play. They had a theory that Amy might have been drunk after leaving the nightclub, so much so that she had fallen overboard and disappeared beneath the water.

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In the end, there was no evidence to support this distressing theory, and the police gave up on it as a possibility. With no sign of Amy and no clues as to where to search for her, the Bradleys had no choice but to return home.

Unwarranted Attention

With no other theory seeming likely, the Bradley family became convinced someone was responsible for this tragic event, and that Amy had been abducted from the ship. Her brother Brad began to comment that some of the employees at the club had been paying her more attention than he thought was normal.

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When the family returned to their home town, they set straight to work spreading the word on Amy’s disappearance and gained the backing of their local community in their search.

The Bradleys' Reward

While this support from those around them meant the world to the Bradley family, they realized that they needed to resume their search where Amy was last seen. So Brad and Ron returned to the island of Curacao where their problems had begun.

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Rather than attempting to search the island themselves, they hoped to enlist the help of local people in finding their daughter. The family decided to offer a reward of $260,000 for anyone that could help find Amy and posted flyers with this information all over the island.

The First Clue

It turned out this was the correct tactic to take with the case, as they had a response from the flyers in just 24 hours. A local taxi driver called to say that he had seen a young woman he believed to be Amy.

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This had occurred just after the cruise ship had docked. The woman in question had apparently run up to the window of the taxi asking for the nearest telephone, before running off again.

The Search Resumes

The Bradleys were now convinced that Amy had at least made it as far as the island, and was possibly still there. The two men searched Curacao from top to bottom without results.

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They even enlisted the help of local police, checking in every hotel on the island, along with beaches, stores, and restaurants, but the young woman was nowhere to be found. With nothing to show for their search, the men had no choice but to return home.

More Sightings Are Reported

This story from the taxi driver was not the only lead the Bradleys received after posting their flyers. As time went on, there were more potential sightings of Amy Bradley from around the same area.

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Although they still had no strong evidence, all of these reports that Amy had been spotted only made the Bradley family more convinced that their daughter had been kidnapped. In every parent’s worst nightmare, they believed she was being held somewhere against her will.

The Tattooed Woman

Some of these reports even contained a convincing amount of detail. One couple, who were visiting Curacao from Canada, claimed to have seen Amy walking along one of the island’s beaches.

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While this could have been any young woman, the Canadians claimed that she had the same tattoos as Amy: a sun on her lower back, a Chinese symbol on her right ankle, a gecko lizard around her belly button, and a Tasmanian Devil spinning a basketball located on her shoulder.

Unable to Escape

Perhaps more distressing was the report from a man named David Carmichael, which gave the parents more evidence for their kidnapping theory. He claimed that he had seen Amy, again on the beach, but this time walking between two men.

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Amy had tried to approach David, but was pulled away by the men she was with. He alerted the police, who searched the area surrounding the sighting, but the woman – whoever she was – was long gone.

The Brothel Sighting

Further evidence of kidnapping came from a man from the Navy, who had visited a brothel on Curacao. He said that inside the facility he had been approached by a woman who identified herself as Amy Bradley.

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She began to tell him that she needed help, but before he could do anything she was quickly ushered away. Sadly, the sailor didn’t notify the police immediately as he was not supposed to have been there. Sometime after this event, the brothel was burned down.

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Was She In Barbados?

Yet another sighting was reported to the police, but this time from Barbados. A tourist by the name of Judy Maurer had been using a restroom when she caught sight of a woman matching Amy’s description, who appeared to be terrified.

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Judy left the restroom and did not see the woman again, so was unable to provide the police with any more information. With so little to go on, this lead turned out to be a dead end.

The Sinister Email

In 2005, seven years after she went missing, the Bradleys received an email from an anonymous source that gave them further clues as to what might have happened to their daughter. The email contained images of a woman in lingerie who looked very much like Amy.

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Although the family passed the email on to police, detectives were unable to discover where it had originated, and therefore had no leads to work with. For the Bradleys, however, they saw this as proof that their daughter had been forced into sexual slavery.

The Search Continues

While this is not the news that any parent or family member wants to hear, they did see it as proof that at least Amy might still be alive, and would one day be returned to them.

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The family continue their search, hiring a private investigator in Curacao with the assumption that Amy is still somewhere in the Caribbean. Until they are able to find her and take her back to her home, the Bradleys will continue to keep her memory alive.

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