What happened after Sage Smith disappeared the night of her date?
Sage Smith was finally being herself. She wrote, “I am a girl now #Respect it #Authenticity” on her social media, declaring her identity as a transwoman. Not only did she overcome her complicated childhood, but she thrived. As the first in her family to graduate high school, she was taking cosmetology classes to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional hairdresser.
Then—on a cold November night in 2012—Sage disappeared. Almost a decade later, her case remains unsolved, and the one person who might have answers has vanished.
The day Sage went missing
Sage met Erik McFadden online, and they’d been talking for a while. They were planning on meeting up on the evening of November 20, 2012. She spent the afternoon getting ready for their date, texting him several times after calling her father to congratulate him on the anniversary of his release from jail.
Around 5:40 pm, Sage woke up her roommate, Aubrey Carson, to let her know she was leaving and that she’d be home that evening. Between 6:08 pm and 6:27 pm, Erik sent Sage three texts asking where she was and accusing her of standing him up, and records indicate Sage was on the phone with someone from Northern Virginia at 6:18 pm. Around this time, Sage’s stepsister, Keyera Morgan, happened to see Sage while walking to the bus stop. Keyera claims she didn’t know who Sage was talking to but heard Sage say she’d “be ‘there’ in five minutes.”
Sage made her way to the 400 block of West Main Street in Charlottesville, VA. There, she spoke to a witness and mentioned she was going to meet someone at the Amtrak station. She walked west, towards the Amtrak station. It’s possible she went to the Wild Wing Cafe next to the Amtrak around 7:00 pm, but this account remains unconfirmed.
When she was discovered missing
When Aubrey woke up to find Sage still wasn’t home, she grew concerned. She reached out to some friends to see if anyone had heard from Sage. When that failed, she reached out to Sage’s grandmother, Lolita “Cookie” Smith. Lolita advises Aubrey to wait until 10:00 pm to see if Sage came home, then call the police to report Sage as missing.
Meanwhile, that evening, Erik reached out to Yani Ortiz—a mutual acquaintance of his and Sage’s—and told her to delete his contact information from her cellphone. A few hours later, Aubrey took Lolita’s advice and contacted the authorities.
The following day, the Charlottesville PD began their investigation into Sage’s disappearance. They began collecting information from Sage’s family and friends to create a timeline. Sage’s family, meanwhile, took matters into their own hands to help out. They logged into Sage’s cell phone account and found an unknown phone number. Sage’s Father, Dean, posted the number on Facebook to see if anyone recognized it, and Yami did. She reached out to inform him the number belonged to Erik McFadden.
Where the case stands today
From there, the investigation took numerous twists and turns. Erik contacted the police to claim he did not meet Sage the night she disappeared. Later, he tells his girlfriend—Esther Iveni—that he did meet her, but left when they encountered a group of people who were antagonizing Sage. The police were never able to contact Erik, and he soon went missing.
Erik has been downgraded from a suspect to a potential witness and may hold key information. On June 26, 2019, they released a missing persons report for Erik McFadden, offering a reward for information on both his and Sage’s whereabouts. Investigators also reclassified Sage’s case as a homicide, in part to receive additional resources for her case.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Erik McFadden or Sage Smith, please call the Charlottesville Police Department. You can also show your support by following Sage’s family’s Facebook page about her case.