One chilly winter evening, a few weeks before Christmas, a North Carolina woman told her husband and children she was heading out to do some Christmas shopping and kissed them goodnight. She got into her 1995 Pontiac Trans Sport van, drove away into the night, and was never seen again.
This holiday season will mark the 19th Christmas that Amanda Smith will spend without her mother, Michele Lyn Hundley Smith.
“I’ll never forget that first Christmas without her,” Amanda told Dateline. “We didn’t even care about presents or anything – our mom was gone. Nothing was ever the same after that.”
Amanda was 14 years old when her 38-year-old mother disappeared on December 9, 2001. Her younger brother was almost eight. Their older sister was 19 and already out of the house.
“It affected all of our lives,” Amanda said. “But I think I took it the hardest. My mom… we were best friends. She was a really good mother, you know, but then became more of a friend when I got older.”
Amanda described Michele as a mother who was always there when they got off the bus from school, cooked their favorite meals, and while she wasn’t very strict, she never let them get away with everything.
“Then later on, we just became such good friends,” Amanda said. “I just felt like we had a special bond.”
Amanda told Dateline that on the evening of December 9, 2001, she remembers her mother kissing them goodnight and leaving their house in Stoneville, North Carolina around 8:30 p.m. to go shopping in Martinsville, Virginia, which is about a 30-minute drive.
“It wasn’t unusual for her to go shopping in the evenings,” said Amanda, who explained that her mother stayed at home with them while their father worked as a truck driver. “And she often went to Martinsville to shop. We expected her back within a couple of hours. But she never came home.”
Amanda told Dateline her father woke her up around 12:30 a.m. and seemed concerned that Michele had not returned home yet.
“He was really worried,” Amanda said. “She had left before, like if they had an argument or something, but would just go to my grandma’s house and come back the next day. But this was different. She wasn’t at my grandma’s. She wasn’t anywhere.”
North Carolina woman desperate to know what happened to mother who never returned from Christmas shopping in 2001
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