Vickie Ellington has not been seen since.
With missing persons, multiple theories will be evaluated in an attempt to explain the disappearance. In Ms. Ellington's case, it did not appear that she was suffering from a medical issue that required immediate assistance and she was not lost, so at least three explanations would be explored:
- She left on her own volition to start a new life somewhere else;
- She was the victim of a crime; or,
- She took her own life.
Initially, authorities would want to know as much about the person's mental health as possible.
Had the individual been depressed or discussed suicide?
Were there any previous attempts and/or was he or she under the care of a psychiatric professional?
Were purchases made (tools, medications, etc.) that could indicate planning?
In death cases when the cause is unknown and being investigated, some agencies will use an approach called the "psychological autopsy."
A psychological autopsy is an organized and analytical approach used to evaluate the likelihood that a decedent took his/her own life.
The process involves trying to reconstruct the person's life and mental state prior to the incident.
For missing person cases, I think the thoroughness gleaned via psychological autopsies are beneficial in examining a suicide theory.
The process would include in-depth interviews with friends, family members, and business associates, subpoenaing medical records, and using digital forensics on the person's electronic devices.
Also, searches of the person's residence would be imperative. Specifically, establishing if a person's room looked as to be expected (e.g. clean people maintain tidy rooms), household chores had been planned, efforts had/had not been made to care for pets if something happened, etc.
Now, the most persuasive argument against suicide in this case is: there is no body.
Authorities have video of Ms. Ellington walking from her truck and then disappearing from cameras.
Professionals and dogs thoroughly searched the area within days after the woman was last seen.
In addition, remember that this was January, so foliage would have been minimal; making it easier for search teams to access the woods and fields adjacent to the Walmart.
But they found nothing.
With no body, are there other aspects that would also seem to further refute the notion that she took her own life?
Was there anything revealed about this case that would at least make someone explore a suicide argument?
I say "yes" to both questions; and with the latter, most puzzling is a comment made by one of Ms. Ellington's family members.
I'll provide specifics next time.
For all of my posts on the Ellington case you can click here, or for more Missing Person Monday posts, go here.