CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WRIC) – The Charlottesville Police Department and family members of Dashad ‘Sage’ Smith held a press conference Thursday pleading for help locating a missing man who is believed to be connected to the transgender teen’s ongoing homicide investigation.
Smith, 19, disappeared on November 20, 2012, in the 500 block of West Main Street near the Amtrack Train Station in Charlottesville.
Investigators had previously identified now 28-year-old Erik McFadden as a ‘critical’ person of interest in the case, though his whereabouts are unknown.
McFadden has connections to the Lake City area, according to the Charlottesville police, “and we are hoping with the help of coverage from your organization, we can spread the word to help locate McFadden and help crack this case.”
A detective made contact with McFadden immediately following Smith’s disappearance, but he failed to show up for a scheduled interview and reportedly fled town, according to a release from the Charlottesville PD.
McFadden has not been seen or heard from by CPD or family members since.
Detectives say McFadden and Smith were planning to meet on the night of November 20, 2012, though what happened after they met remains a mystery.
“Smith vanished without a trace, and detectives continue to believe McFadden was the last person to see Smith, and that he has information vital to this case,” Charlottesville PD said in a release.
Initially, Smith’s case was classified as a missing person’s case, but the department reclassified the case as a homicide in November 2016. Since then, local and federal authorities have spent ‘countless months and hours’ identifying and scouring through evidence, interviews, and witness statements. Despite these efforts, the case remains unsolved.
McFadden attended Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, from August of 2009 to April of 2011. Detectives believe McFadden may have traveled to, and could be living in cities such as Baltimore, Md., Joppa, Md., Lake City, S.C., Columbia, S.C., Atlanta, Ga., New York City, N.Y., Rochester N.Y., and potentially to other unknown locations on the West Coast.
“It has been nearly seven years since Smith disappeared, but the Charlottesville Police Department is hopeful with the help of the media and continued public interest, we can finally solve this case and bring closure to a family and community that has experienced anguish over the loss of a family member, a friend, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” the department added.
Anyone with information about McFadden’s disappearance or Smith’s homicide case to contact Detective Regine Wright at 434-970-3381, or our anonymous CrimeStoppers tip line at 434-977-4000. A $10,000 reward is being offered through CrimeStoppers, and an additional $10,000 is being matched by the City of Charlottesville for information leading to an arrest in Smith’s case.