More on Vickie Ellington, Missing

Part II of the Vickie Ellington missing person case…

Case Summary

On the afternoon of Thursday, January 27, 2011, Vickie Ellington pulled her Chevrolet Suburban into the Wal-Mart parking lot in Louisville, MS. Reportedly, the fifty-three year old business owner and grandmother was going to meet someone there. Video cameras from several stores show Ms. Ellington park in the front lot and exit her vehicle, but walk away from Walmart--towards a McDonalds and Taco Bell across the street. She then walks out of range from all the cameras and vanishes.

Vickie Ellington has not been seen since.


Exploring Theories

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:

  1. She left on her own volition to start a new life somewhere else;

  2. She was the victim of a crime; or,

  3. She took her own life.

Today, I will examine #3 or the possibility of suicide.

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.


Mary Kirkland said...

I can imagine it would be really hard not knowing what happened to their loved one.

Bijoux said...

Looking forward to the next segment. What percentage of people leave suicide notes?

Stephanie Faris said...

Yeah, usually there's a body when someone commits suicide. Unless for some reason she had a reason she never wanted her body found. Can't wait to read more on this one!

Theresa Milstein said...

Now I'm intrigued. I hope she decided to start a new life. If there's no body, that's always the hope.

Pat Hatt said...

Seems kind of weird she'd go there to take her own life, but then people who are determined to take their life, rarely ever think rationally, they just snap and that is that.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

It's good to try to look at it from different angles.

messymimi said...

It's a fascinating study, how this work is done. Yet, at the back of it, are real people with real hurts, missing this person. That must make it even more difficult to do the work.

Slamdunk said...

@Bijoux: Great question--the percentage leaving notes is surprisingly few. Published studies of suicides where the decedent left a note range from 12% to 33% of the cases involved. So that translates into anywhere from 9 out of 10 to 2 out of 3 persons not leaving a suicide letter behind. Females are more likely than males to leave behind a note.

Not having a note is detrimental on multiple levels. First, investigators have to use strategies like the psychological autopsy to try and recreate the stresses on a person (certainly something less than full-proof), and second those loved ones of the victim are left with so many unanswered questions.

@ Patt Hatt: Good observation. That is something that makes these cases difficult--often the person fleeing, choosing to take their own life, etc. is not acting rationally making it difficult to understand the "why."

@ Messymimi: Yes, and the not knowing must be excruciatingly painful for the families.

@Stephanie: That is always a possibility and why investigators rarely can completely rule out suicide. In the published studies that I refer to in my response to Bijoux, males are more likely to select a hidden location.

Janet Johnson said...

You stopped there?!!! But I need the specifics now! But I really hope she's okay. So sad for the family.

But it's kind of fascinating to see how the investigation is broken down.

Bob G. said...

Very strange case, and I did find that "psychological autopsy" part very interesting.
Look for ward to the next installment.

stay safe out there.

Donna K. Weaver said...

You tease! These posts are fascinating.

Gail Dixon said...

Oh, you left us hanging! These kinds of cases fascinate me. But I feel so badly for the loved ones affected by a disappearance like this. Hope they find her one day soon.

lisa said...

I would think putting together these types of profiles would be terribly difficult. Odd thing is she's almost the spitting image of a woman I know at church…but I've known here longer than 2011.

Brian Miller said...

interesting...i have been kicking around a story about a person leaving to start a new life...i started writing it years ago...intrigued...

Clarissa Draper said...

This may not be a code but it's sure a puzzle. I hope they find out what happened to her. I hope for the outcome that she just wandered off and will reappear someday soon.

ladyfi said...

Oh no - hope she's found soon.

Dawn Simon said...

I hope she started a new life somewhere and that she's fine.

Hilary said...

The part that sticks in my mind is that she seemed to be the sole person responsible for her grandchild. I would assume that it's not the kind of appointment given to someone who is unstable. And maternal instinct is mighty strong.

But leaving her car, walking in the opposite direction of Walmart without her purse (if I read that correctly in the earlier post)... that makes me wonder.

Carol Kilgore said...

Maybe she had just reached the point where she could no longer cope and left to begin a new life with a new identity. That's my wistful side talking.

Kay G. said...

I should think that this woman was a victim of a crime.
Let us know the rest of the story!

BobKat said...

A very complex and revealing post Slam, although I disagree with a suicide theory in this case. Two ideas of my own are that she: 1)parked at Walmart's as she intended to go there after she got something to eat... and/or, she was meeting a date, maybe for the first time and intended to go to Walmarts after the date.

I still have to read Part One, missed it, you may have already considered my ideas.

Excellent post. Spooky how she just walked away and hasn't returned.

Momma Fargo said...

Great learning points. What about foul play? Serial killer? Internet lover? Hidden money pots missing? Disgruntled family members? :D Just throwing some wild cards out there. You are right you have to look at every detail and eliminate or include point, evidence, data, and even the circumstantial. Super post!

Stephanie said...

OMG!! It's hard to people someone could be so brazen! Hope the homeowner got everything back and wasn't too traumatized!

Anonymous said...

I was the friend that filed the missing person on her and it is very hard not knowing what happened to her. This month will be five years and there is still no answers.