Details of Disappearance
Hattie picked her adult nephew, Derek Edward Brown, up at a Sheetz gas station at the intersection of Route 501 and Route 58 in Halifax County, Virginia on May 16, 2009. She and her vehicle, a brown 2003 Volkswagen Jetta with the Virginia license plate number DV 20505, were captured on the station's security camera at 2:33 a.m.
Hattie dropped Derek off at a party and was last seen idling in her car outside. Derek made it home safely, but his aunt has never been heard from again.
In July, two months after Hattie's disappearance, her car was found abandoned and burned on a farm in southeastern Halifax County. It had been completely destroyed by the fire and looked as if it had been parked at the location for a long time. Authorities said the farm was abandoned, which suggested a local person was involved in Hattie's disappearance, since a local would be aware that it would be a safe place to leave her car where it wouldn't be found for some time.
After the vehicle's discovery, police publicly named Derek as a suspect in his aunt's disappearance. He hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with it, however. Derek has a prior criminal record for breaking and entering, destroying property and possession of burglary tools.
Hattie's family stated they didn't believe she left of her own accord, as this is uncharacteristic of her behavior. She left her purse and medication behind, as well as her cherished pet Chihuahua, when she vanished, and none of her accounts have been touched.
Hattie is an Army veteran who participated in Operation Desert Storm; she retired in 1998, with the rank of sergeant. She has eleven siblings, several of whom have died in the years since her disappearance.
Curiously, Hattie isn't the only missing person in her family; her brother, James Brown Jr., disappeared from Clover, Virginia in 2013. The cases aren't thought to be connected and both remain unsolved.