When a teenager with her whole life ahead of her suddenly vanished, the authorities were stumped by the lack of solid evidence. Katelin Akens was supposed to board a flight to get back home, but she never even made it to the airport. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Disappeared: Flight Risk’ focuses on the young woman’s activities and whereabouts leading to her disappearance. So, if you’re curious about an update in the case, we’ve got you covered.
What Happened to Katelin Akens?
Growing up, Katelin Michelle Akens lived in Caroline County, Virginia, with her mother, Lisa Sullivan. She graduated from Caroline High School in 2011 and worked at the same local convenience store where her mother held a job. The 19-year-old moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, just days after her 18th birthday in 2014, to live with her fiancée. At the time of the incident, Katelin was looking forward to enrolling in cosmetology school in Arizona.
Katelin flew into Virginia to visit her family in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, for the birth of her nephew. After spending time with her folks, she had a flight back to Arizona on December 5, 2015. At that point, Lisa’s ex-husband, James Branton, agreed to drop Katelin off at the airport about 80 miles away. This was the last time Lisa saw her daughter. About two days later, Katelin’s suitcase with her money, credit cards, and the plane ticket was found in a drainage ditch in Spotsylvania County.
Has Katelin Akens Been Found?
Lisa had dropped off Katelin at James’ home at around 8:30 AM on December 5. A few hours later, she got a text from James saying he had dropped Katelin off at the airport. At about 2 PM the same day, Lisa then received a text from her daughter’s phone that said, “I’m at the airport. Battery dying, so won’t be able to text for a bit.” Despite asking Katelin to call when she got on the plane, Lisa didn’t hear anything until 7:15 PM that evening. This time, the texts were worrying; they said that she was staying with a friend and needed some alone time.
Lisa didn’t think Katelin sent those texts. She believed someone else used her phone to do so. The authorities later learned from James that he dropped Katelin at the Springfield Town Center in Virginia from where Katelin was going to take a metro to the airport. However, phone pings showed Katelin or her luggage never left Spotsylvania. When Lisa tried calling Katelin, it went straight to voicemail, and two days later, her belongings were located.
The authorities have not charged anyone with Katelin’s disappearance, and without a body or any other evidence, it became difficult to prove a crime occurred. It was reported that James stopped cooperating with the investigators after a point. In March 2021, a foundation for missing people placed a billboard regarding Katelin’s case on the route James took to work. The hope was that he would change his mind about not cooperating with the police.
According to the police, the case remains open, and any leads that come through would be investigated thoroughly. Lisa has continued to hope that she will eventually know what happened to her daughter. She said, “We don’t know if she’s laying in a ditch somewhere or if she’s going to be fine. We don’t know if she’s living it up, partying around. If she is out there, is she going to be the same Katelin we know? I don’t know.” In 2021, Lisa added that finding Katelin’s body would provide her with some closure.
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