Details of Disappearance
Courtney lived with her adoptive mother, Judy Holden, her adoptive brother, Joshua Holden, and her young son on Heroy Avenue in northeast Spokane, Washington at the time of her disappearance. Photos of Joshua and Judy are posted with this case summary.
Joshua has a prior arrest record, and family members said he had said it would be easy to kill someone and hide the body. Neighbors and family members described him as "dangerous, violent, and unpredictable" and said Judy seemed to be afraid of him. He had been charged with rape in 2005, but the case was dropped before trial because the victim stopped cooperating with prosecutors.
According to neighbors, the Holdens' residence had numerous security cameras around the outside. Courtney did not own a cellular phone or a car, and confided to a neighbor that she was afraid to leave the house without permission from Joshua. One neighbor regularly noticed bruises on her, and when she asked about them, Courtney said Joshua "would beat on her." When Joshua found out she had a Facebook account and was using it to talk to people, he made her stop using it.
Judy and Joshua referred to Courtney as "Cindy", short for Cinderella, in reference to all the household chores she performed. Visitors to the house noted Courtney's son called Joshua, "Daddy" and Judy, "Mom."
Courtney had been taking prescription medication for about a year or two prior to her disappearance, getting a refill every month or two. The last refill she got was in July 2018. The last time anyone outside the family saw Courtney was sometime that summer. One neighbor saw her carrying a large duffel bag out the front door of the house. Judy chased after her calling for her to come back, and Courtney said, "I'm not staying here anymore." Joshua forcibly picked her up and carried her back inside.
No one is known to have seen Courtney since then, although money continued to get withdrawn from her bank account, and groceries kept being purchased with her food stamps.
Joshua and Judy told various stories to explain Courtney's absence: that she was traveling with a boyfriend who was a long-range truck driver, that she had run off with a fiance, or that she was in fact at home with them but just wasn't available to see or speak to anyone.
Courtney was not reported missing until early October 2019, more than a year after she was last seen. The father of her son, and his current girlfriend, asked the police to perform a welfare check, saying they hadn't seen or heard from Courtney in two years.
When police went to the Holden home, Courtney was gone, and Joshua and Judy didn't want to cooperate with them. Judy did, reluctantly, show a police detective Courtney's room. The detective noted the mattress was bare, and it didn't look as if anyone had stayed there for awhile. After the police saw Courtney's room, Judy asked them to leave.
Investigators opened up a missing persons investigation. The day the missing persons report was filed, Joshua and Judy withdrew money from Courtney's bank account. That same day, a woman claiming to be Courtney called Crime Line to say she was fine. A police dispatcher also spoke to someone who claimed to be Courtney. The caller turned out to be Courtney's adoptive sister, however, and wouldn't say why she had pretended to be Courtney.
By October 24, the police came to the Holdens' house to execute a search warrant and discovered Joshua and Judy had moved away, taking their six pets and the DVR from their home surveillance system. Police searched the house with cadaver dogs, but didn't find anything of interest.
In mid-December, authorities located Joshua and Judy in Texas. They were living with one of Judy's other daughters and they had Courtney's son with them. The boy was given to the care of his father, and the Holdens were arrested and charged with identity theft (for taking money from Courtney's bank accounts) and custodial interference (for concealing her son).
In 2021, the legal case against Joshua and Judy was resolved. Joshua pleaded guilty to custodial interference and criminal mischief and was sentenced to 135 days in jail, with credit for time served. Judy pleaded guilty to second-degree custodial interference. Neither of them have been charged in Courtney's actual disappearance.
Courtney is described as a loving mother who wouldn't have abandoned her child. The father of her son says he's certain she must be deceased, and the investigation has turned up no evidence that she is still alive. Authorities believe she may have been murdered.