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This missing Army veteran was last seen 12 years ago at a Virginia gas station with her nephew

HattieGertrudeBrown .jpg
Posted at 10:36 PM, May 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-16 22:44:24-04

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. -- Authorities are asking for the public's help in solving the mystery of what happened to an Army veteran last seen at a Virginia gas station 12 years ago.

Surveillance cameras showed Hattie Gertrude Brown and her nephew, Derek, in her silver Volkswagen Jetta at the Sheetz gas station in South Boston at the intersection of Route 501 and Route 58 around 2:30 a.m. on May 16, 2009.

“Twelve years is long enough,” Capt. David O. Cooper II, Commander of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office, said. “We need that one courageous person to come forward with information. Finding Hattie would provide considerable closure and peace to her family, who has now spent more than a decade suffering from not knowing what’s happened to their loved one.”

Brown's sisters, Preteasta Barksdale and Diane Brown, told WDBJ in 2019 that it was unusual for the Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm to be out so late. They think Derek called her and asked for a ride.

"I think she did what anyone in my family would do. Go and help each other," Barksdale said. "I think when she got there, it turned out not to be what she thought it would be, but she went ahead and helped him with a ride."

Brown's car was discovered in July 2009 after it had been torched and abandoned behind an old barn in Halifax County along the Virginia-North Carolina line and about 15 miles from where she was last seen at the gas station, according to WDBJ.

Investigators called Derek Brown a "person of interest" in 2019 and said he was in prison for a 2016 burglary and assault.

Officials previously called the lack of cooperation from people who might have information about Brown's whereabouts "a roadblock" in the investigation.

Troopers described Brown as a Black female, 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 155 pounds. She was last seen wearing a sleeveless top with pants that has side stripes.

Additionally, investigators Brown she left her home without her purse or medication.

Officials with Virginia State Police, Halifax County Sheriff's Office, and the South Boston Police Department said they remain hopeful someone will come forward to bring justice and peace for Brown's family.

Anyone with information on Brown's whereabouts or about the case is asked to call the State Police Appomattox Division at 1-800-552-0962 or 434-352-7128.