On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, Abby Patterson left her grandmother’s house in Lumberton, North Carolina, at 11:30 a.m. with the expectation of returning soon. The 20-year-old texted her mother, Samantha Lovette, before heading out, informing her that she would be returning home in approximately an hour with a few of her old high school pals. She then waved goodbye to her grandmother and left through the front door. She didn’t come back.
Since Abby and her mother had a very close relationship, Samantha knew something wasn’t right when Abby abruptly stopped answering her texts. Samantha kept attempting to reach Abby on her cell phone, but every call ended up in her voicemail. Samantha reported her missing to the Lumberton Police Department when she didn’t return home by 6:00 p.m.
Abby entered an older model brown Buick that was parked on the side of the road after leaving her grandmother’s house on East 9th Street, according to a witness. The driver of the Buick, who was a friend of Abby’s, was located by the police. Detectives were informed by him that she had called him and requested a ride to a different location; he dropped her off there and was unaware of her whereabouts.
After being reported missing, there were a few sightings of Abby in the Lumberton area, but Samantha was certain that Abby wouldn’t choose to sever all ties with her family. She had been residing in Jacksonville, Florida, but the previous weekend she had travelled back to North Carolina to spend Labour Day with her family. Samantha was certain that something horrible had happened to her, even though she hadn’t shown them any signs of concern when she went to meet her friend that Tuesday. “Abby left with someone she trusted,” the source stated to a reporter. Abby intended to return home on that particular day.
Sandy Bryan, Abby’s sister, concurred with her mother. She was confident that Abby wasn’t choosing to stay away from home because she saw that Abby was in regular communication with both of them.
The family of Abby had legitimate concerns about her security. Three young women’s bodies had been discovered a few blocks from Abby’s last known location in the months before her disappearance.
On April 18, police were called to the area in response to multiple complaints regarding an unpleasant smell. They quickly located the decaying body of a young woman crammed inside a television cabinet after focusing their search on an abandoned house at 505 Peachtree Street. Approximately one block away from the Peachtree Street residence, at 702 East 5th Street, another body was discovered within a garbage can.
Kristin Bennett, 32, was identified as the body discovered inside the house. The medical examiner was uncertain if the woman had been murdered or had overdosed on drugs when she passed away, despite the fact that her remains indicated possible foul play. When she was discovered, she had been wrapped in a blanket and placed inside the TV cabinet while nude.
The 36-year-old Rhonda Jones’s body was discovered in the trash can on East 5th Street. Rhonda had cuts on her face and a broken nose when she passed away, just like Kristin. She also had drugs in her system. Once more, the medical examiner was unable to pinpoint the precise cause of death because of the state of decomposition.
After the bodies were discovered, television reporters descended upon the neighbourhood to speak with locals about the horrifying finding. A number of people seemed shocked; among them was Rhonda’s friend Megan Oxendine, 28, who was in disbelief that her friend had died.
On June 3rd, police were called back to the area in response to a second complaint of a foul smell. Less than 500 feet from the Peachtree Street residence where the other two bodies were found, a third body was found on East 8th Street. Megan Oxendine’s body was identified; sadly, she had suffered the same fate as her friend. Like the other two women, Megan was found in the nude and had drugs in her system, but the medical examiner was unable to pinpoint the precise cause of her death.
Neighbours worried that a serial killer was at large in Lumberton after hearing of the discovery of a third body. In an attempt to solve the case as soon as possible, the Lumberton Police Department requested support from the FBI. Regretfully, when Abby vanished, the investigation had already come to a standstill, leading some people to believe that she had become the murderer’s fourth victim.
Days after Abby vanished, Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeil acknowledged that it was possible Abby’s case was connected to the three murdered women’s cases, but he also advised the media not to draw hasty conclusions because there was no concrete evidence indicating Abby was dead.
In a desperate attempt to locate Abby, her family promised a $5,000 reward for information that would lead to her location. This was quickly raised to $10,000 following a $5,000 donation from a nearby business. In spite of the fact that some tips were received but none of them resulted in any significant developments in the case, friends and family were optimistic that the promise of a reward would prompt someone with information about the case to come forward and speak with investigators.
Abby had moved out of the area three years prior, so she had only been in Lumberton for a few days when she vanished. Abby’s mother was candid in revealing that her daughter had battled heroin addiction in the past, but that she had successfully finished treatment and was motivated to turn her life around.
One thing Abby had in common with the three young women who had been murdered was that she had a history of drug use; Rhonda, Kristin, and Megan had all used cocaine just before they passed away. The FBI concluded, however, that Abby’s case had nothing to do with the three killings because Abby was not “known to the street” and the other three women were. The phrase “known to the street” was used without explanation, but it appeared to imply that the three murder victims were involved in prostitution or the drug trade.
As part of their continuing search for Abby, authorities searched a pond in Lumberton that was off Almanack Road in July 2018. Reporters were informed by residents of Almanack Road that they had witnessed a large number of investigators sifting through the forested area that surrounded the pond, which was close to a long-abandoned house. The pond was encircled by trash and abandoned auto parts, and it measured about 40 feet wide by up to 12 feet deep in some places. The area looked to be an unofficial dumping ground.
Locals claim that investigators were in the area for several days. After almost twenty years of living on Almanack Road, Bernice Locklear told reporters that she thought the police had drained the pond because she had seen both marked and unmarked cars in the area. “They had two dogs sniffing out there, and they were scraping the bottom.”
Little had been done in the case a year after Abby vanished. The Lumberton Police Department said that despite investigating several leads, they were unable to ascertain the precise circumstances surrounding the missing woman.
Samantha insisted that she wouldn’t give up looking for Abby, saying that no parent could just put the situation behind them. “You’re stuck, and it’s a terrible nightmare…There should be no mother’s suffering over not knowing where her child is.
The FBI added Abby to their Most Wanted List of abducted and missing people in July 2019. They also made her missing person poster available for download on their website. Family members and friends were hoping that with more exposure, they would eventually receive some explanation for what had happened to Abby. “We need our sweet Abby back, our world has been turned upside down,” Samantha wrote. We are unable to wake up from this terrible nightmare.
Abby had been missing for two years by September 2019, and the police were no closer to her whereabouts than they had been on her disappearance day. Samantha stated that while the FBI and the Lumberton Police Department were still actively looking into her daughter’s disappearance, she was also actively involved in the case and was making every effort to keep Abby’s name in the public domain.
Samantha and about twenty volunteers went door-to-door on September 28, 2019, along Almanack Road in Lumberton, distributing flyers for missing persons and reminding neighbours that there was still a $10,000 reward available for information leading to Abby. They distributed more than 250 fliers by the end of the day, and they were optimistic that their efforts would result in some fresh tips being reported to the police.
Samantha commemorated the sombre occasion of her daughter’s disappearance’s fourth anniversary on Facebook. “Every room was brightened by Abby’s smile, but on September 5, 2017, the room became dark for our family.I will not stop calling her name because I am her voice. Never will I give up! All of Abby’s family members think that someone in Lumberton is aware of exactly what happened to her, and they all still hope that someone will come forward and provide the information required for the police to be able to apprehend Abby and bring her home.
When Abby Patterson vanished from view in 2017, she was 20 years old. She was an exuberant and free-spirited young lady who had experienced some difficult times but had recovered to look forward to a bright future. She was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 140 pounds in weight when she vanished. She has brown hair and eyes. When last seen, she was decked up in a white blouse and brown shorts. Abby has a tattoo of birds on the back of her right shoulder and a birthmark of a dark hue on the back of her right thigh. Please call the Lumberton Police Department at 910–671–3845 if you know anything about Abby.