The clues are everywhere in this cold case. Virginia Welch disappeared in 1982. Her family says she was into biker gangs and drugs. She said she was in too deep and wanted to tell her family, but didn't.
Then she left without a trace. Everyone suspects the worst. Roanoke Police still are searching more than thirty years later, hopeful Virginia will be found.
Rosie Welch has always wanted to know what was so dark around her daughter Virginia's life that she couldn't tell her mother.
"She had a wooden box that had a padlock," she recalls. "At that time she always told me it was a letter in the envelope at if something ever happened to me it would explain everything"
"Virginia never talked about her lifestyle," says sister Millie Harrison. "I figured she was doing drugs and she hung out with some unsavory people."
It was the summer of 1982. Virginia Welch was 22 and living in Southeast Roanoke with a roommate. In early July she visited her family but then stopped talking, stopped staying in touch. A week went by, then two, then three. Her mother asked the roommate, Rodney Goins, where she was. He offered nothing.
"She had just said she was going to take care of stuff, but never came back," says Roanoke Police detective Lin Manning.
One of his department's oldest cold cases, Manning says all leads point to her involvement with bikers.
"We know Virginia was associated with or had friends in some motorcycle clubs and she did have some relations with some people involved in drug activity," he says.
Detectives only knew of a few people to question. Goins, according to police, had no involvement.
"The investigation showed they pretty much checked out," he says. "They showed that they didn't have any involvement. There were some speculations but police had checked on that."
Speculations that remain to this day. Virginia's family says Goins changed his story to them time after time.
"I've always felt like the guy she lived with did something to her," says Harrison. "I've always believed he knew more than he ever told."
For police, there's only one way to end the speculation; find her or her remains. Or, find that letter, hidden in that wooden box with the padlock. Except when Virginia's mother went to get the box from the house she was living:
"Well the hinges had been broke loose and I didn't find the envelope," she says.
The latest lead for police is a body found in Pennsylvania a few months after Virginia went missing in 1982. They are currently working with the Smithsonian to compare dental records to see if it's Virginia.
Until then, her DNA is in national databases in case any other remains are found that could be her.