Police in Charlottesville, Va., are looking in Baltimore and Joppa for person of interest in the homicide of a transgender teenager, officials said Thursday.
Police believe Erik McFadden, 28, was the last person to be seen with 19-year-old transgender woman Dashad “Sage” Smith before Smith disappeared in 2012 in Charlottesville. The case was classified as a homicide in 2016, though police haven’t been able to find Smith’s body.
McFadden was officially declared a missing person this week.
“We ask the worldwide community to help locate Erik McFadden.” Charlottesville police Det. Regine Wright said at a news conference Thursday.
The Charlottesville Police Department collaborated previously with Baltimore police to look for McFadden and “are willing to do that again with this new development in the investigation,” said Tyler Hawn, a spokesperson for the Charlottesville department.
McFadden lived in Joppatowne before going to Charlottesville.
“The main focus needs to stay on getting Erik McFadden here,” Latasha Dennis, Smith’s mother, said Thursday, “and to ask him questions to find out where [Smith] is.”
McFadden and Smith were supposed to meet the night of Nov. 20, 2012, Charlottesville police Capt. James Mooney said. Smith was last seen on the 500 block of W. Main St. near downtown Charlottesville around 6:30 p.m. that night.
McFadden was approached by Charlottesville detectives immediately after Smith was reported missing but did not show up to a scheduled interview, police said. McFadden reportedly left town and has not been heard from or seen by the police or friends and family since, Mooney said.
While Charlottesville police believe one place McFadden may be is the Baltimore area, Mooney said he also could be in Atlanta, New York City, Rochester, N.Y., South Carolina or even somewhere on the West Coast.
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McFadden’s mother, Denise McFadden, said she did not know her son was missing until 2014, according to a written statement read by Wright. Almost seven years after Smith’s disappearance, Denise McFadden filed a missing person report for her son Wednesday after years of miscommunication with McFadden’s father about their child’s whereabouts.
“I was under the assumption that his father filed a missing person report until two weeks ago,” Denise McFadden said in a statement read by Wright. “I would like Erik to know, if he’s out there and needs help, he can call his mom.”
Smith’s disappearance occurred on national Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance to memorialize victims of anti-transgender violence.
“I believe there wasn’t any equality in the investigation,” said Dean Smith, Smith’s father, “due to these facts: one, my child was black, two, my child was transgender.”
Mooney, however, defended the investigation, saying that city, state and federal law enforcement agencies have worked rigorously on the case.
“Despite these efforts, the case remains unsolved today,” Mooney said.
Charlottesville police urge anyone with information on the whereabouts of McFadden or Smith to contact Wright at 434-970-3381 or the anonymous CrimeStoppers tip line at 434-977-4000.