As Bethany Decker’s grandparents pull up outside her apartment, they notice that something is terribly amiss. Her car has a flat tire, it’s parked crooked – and their granddaughter is nowhere to be seen. In fact, Bethany would never be seen by anybody again.
Bethany was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 13, 1989. Following her graduation from high school, she traveled to Fairfax to attend George Mason University. And there, seemingly no stranger to a busy life, she managed to hold down a full-time job while also majoring in global and economic change.
Then, while at university, Bethany fell pregnant to Army National Guardsman Emile Decker. And it wasn’t long before she’d married Emile – six months before giving birth to their son. However, Emile was soon deployed to Afghanistan, leaving Bethany to juggle not only her job and studies but also caring for their son.
As a result, Bethany would often leave her son with her in-laws, Emile’s parents, while she waitressed at an Italian restaurant. But when she was working there she encountered 30-year-old Bolivian Ronald Roldan – and soon enough, they would embark on an affair.
With her marriage to Emile on the rocks, Bethany then moved to a new home in Ashburn in 2010. Roldan came with her, too, but it didn’t take long for her to realize that he was no good for her. In fact, Bethany’s family later said that he soon became controlling of her. They also claim that he was abusive.
Consequently, Bethany’s parents wanted her to end the relationship; they even began coming up with ways for her to do so. But before they could put any of their plans into action, they received some significant news: Bethany was in fact pregnant with another child.
Then, a few months later, in January 2011, Emile returned from Afghanistan. And despite their marital problems, the Deckers went to Hawaii on vacation. Following the trip, they returned back home on January 28, spending the night at Emile’s parents’ house.
Bethany returned to her apartment in Ashburn the next day. Emile apparently saw her prior to her leaving, while Roldan also saw her in the afternoon, back home. Yet it seems that this was the last time either of the two men in this love triangle would ever see Bethany. In fact, nobody has admitted to seeing her since.
Thanks to Bethany’s busy life, her friends and family were accustomed to her not contacting them for days or even weeks at a time. As a result, nobody really even noticed that she was missing for a few weeks. But in mid-February Bethany’s friends began to get strange Facebook messages from her account.
At the same time, Bethany’s mom, Kim Nelson, received a handful of strange phone calls. So Bethany’s grandparents, who lived near her Ashburn apartment, paid her home a visit. She was nowhere to be found. On top of that, her car was askew, had a flat tire and was covered in dust. The concerned grandparents thus immediately called the police, who then launched an investigation into Bethany’s whereabouts.
The police soon learned that Bethany hadn’t made use of her cellphone or bank since the day that Emile and Roldan had last seen her. Besides which, the 21-year-old hadn’t been to work or turned up to any of her classes either.
The first people the police wanted to speak to were, naturally, the other members of the love triangle that Bethany had been embroiled in: Emile and Roldan. The former was still in Afghanistan, having been sent back out there in mid-February. However, they managed to reach him over the phone – and once he came back to the United States, he took a lie-detector test.
Meanwhile, Roldan had gone back to live with his family after the lease on Bethany’s Ashburn home expired. The cops soon realized that Roldan had a criminal record, though, and so they became very interested in talking to him. Moreover, the answers that he gave to their questions proved to be a bit inconsistent, they claimed.
The police therefore searched Roldan’s apartment and seized his possessions, but they came up with no leads. As a result, the investigation stalled for a time. Meanwhile, nobody knew whether Bethany had even given birth to the child she was pregnant with. There was certainly no record anywhere of her having done so.
Then, in 2012, a television series on the Investigation Discovery channel Disappeared aired an episode focusing on Bethany’s case. The show featured interviews with her family and friends, the cops who’d handled the case and local journalists who’d reported on it. But nothing came of it. Once again, it all went quiet.
Two years later, though, Roldan began dating a woman called Vickey Willoughby. Yet according to her, he soon became controlling, and because of this, she fled to North Carolina, where she owned a house. Roldan then followed her there.
Their relationship only grew worse, however, and things became more violent. One day, after Roldan attacked her, Willoughby drew a gun in self-defense and ended up shooting him twice. Nevertheless, he managed to wrestle the weapon from her and then shoot her in the head, causing her to lose an eye.
They both survived the incident, but Roldan was jailed, and a charge of attempted murder was brought against him. Soon after, Willoughby then spoke out during a Dr. Phil episode that focused on Bethany’s disappearance. Allegedly, Roldan had said that he was able to “make people disappear.” Unsurprisingly, therefore, the police questioned him again over Bethany’s whereabouts.
Still, the police’s questions were once again to no avail. In May 2016, though, Roldan agreed to a plea deal over the charges brought against him for shooting Willoughby. He was handed a prison sentence of six to eight years, after which time he is set to be deported back to Bolivia.
Whether Roldan had a connection to Bethany’s disappearance is something no one has been able to conclusively prove, however. And despite numerous false sightings, the truth behind her whereabouts – and the circumstances that led to her vanishing, including who was sending the Facebook messages – remain a mystery to this day. Nevertheless, the police are still hoping to one day crack the case. “Trust me, no-one wants to solve this more than us,” Detective Steven Schochet of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office told the Daily Mail in March 2015. “This case is never out of our thoughts.”