Four years after a transgender woman went missing in Charlottesville, Virginia, police have reclassified her case as a homicide investigation. Nineteen-year-old Sage Smith was last seen on November 20, 2012, leaving an apartment to meet a friend.
The case has remained active since her disappearance, and was reclassified in December, but police waited to make the information public out of consideration for her family.
“Sage wouldn’t have just walked off,” her grandmother, Lolita Smith, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Somebody took Sage from me. Something happened.”
Because a missing person is not considered a criminal case, police had limited access to Smith’s credit card and cellphone records. There’s been no body or evidence of foul play but, a police spokesperson explained, “by moving it to a criminal matter, it affords us not only additional resources outside the agency, but provides more opportunities to search phone records and computers.”
The last person seen with Smith, 25-year-old Erik Tyquan McFadden, has since disappeared, as well. McFadden is considered a person of interest, though police have yet to identify him as a suspect.
Lolita Smith called her granddaughter a “happy, go-lucky person” who loved to dance.
“I just want people to help me bring my baby home,” she added. “I just want somebody to tell me what makes one person’s life more valuable than another. We are all somebody’s child. We are all children of God.”