Details of Disappearance
Akens was last seen in Springfield, Virginia on December 5, 2015. She was supposed to fly out of Reagan National Airport that day, and got a ride with her former stepfather, James Branton. She had booked a flight to Arizona, where she lived with her fiancee.
The flight was at 5:00 p.m. According to Branton, Akens wanted to spend some time at the mall before going to the airport, so he dropped her off at the Springfield Town Center. From there she was going to walk to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station and take a train to the airport.
Branton texted Akens's mother at 1:52 p.m., saying he had dropped Akens off. Eight minutes later, her mother got a text from Akens's phone saying, "I'm at the airport. Battery dying so won't be able to text for a bit." Akens never boarded her flight, however. She never arrived in Arizona and has never been heard from again.
Five hours and fifteen minutes after Akens's mother got the text from her daughter's phone, she got a series of texts from that number that alarmed her. The texts stated Akens was "staying with a friend" and "needed some time alone." Those messages were not sent from the airport; Katelin's phone was near Interstate 95 in Stafford County, Virginia.
It's uncharacteristic of Akens to leave without warning. She was was about to begin cosmetology school in Arizona and was excited about it. Authorities do not believe she left of her own accord, and they were able to prove that Branton never dropped her off at the mall like he said he did.
A few days after her disappearance, her blue suitcase was found in a drainage ditch along River Road, near the Fall Hill Avenue intersection, outside Fredericksburg, Virginia. This was a few miles from Branton's home, and not anywhere near Reagan National airport.
When the suitcase was found, it was unzipped and mostly empty. Akens's phone charger, eyeglasses, wallet, cash, identification, credit and debit cards, and other belongings were still inside it, but her clothes and her high school diploma were missing. The suitcase was scuffed and one of its wheels was missing, an indication that it had fallen down into the ditch.
Akens has no history of mental illness and no history of dropping out of sight. The last confirmed sighting of her was at Branton's home. He refused to cooperate with the police in her case, would not let them look at his phone and would not take a polygraph test.
Akens's case remains unsolved; she's considered missing under suspicious circumstances.