Virginia authorities continue to search for 21-year-old Bethany Anne Decker, who was last seen on January 29, but for reasons unknown not reported to police as missing for another three weeks (February 19). Decher, a senior at Virginia's George Mason University, has been married to a member of the military for one and one half years and has a 17-month-old son. Decker's husband was deployed to Afghanistan shortly after he and Bethany Anne returned from a vacation in Hawaii, and about the time she was last known to have been seen. Authorities have spoken to him by telephone and are trying to get the military to send him to Virginia for further interview.
Most know that in the case of missing or dead women, the first person law enforcement looks at is the woman's significant other or husband. There is, of course, a reason for this. Prior studies have found death by homicide to be the #1 cause of death for pregnant women. In a Maryland study 50 of 247 pregnancy-associated deaths were due to murder, a Cook Country, Illinois study found that 26 percent of the deaths of pregnant women in the period studied died as the result of a homicide, and in New York a similar study found that 25 percent of the deaths among pregnant women were again the result of homicide.
History is full of media stories concerning men who murdered a woman they had impregnated, to include Scot Peterson, convicted of the murder of his then pregnant wife Lacy; Jessie Davis, whose police officer boyfriend Bobby Cutts, Jr. murdered her while she was pregnant, and Lori Hacking whose husband Mark shot and killed her in her own bed during her pregnancy.
If, in fact, Decker's husband was the last person known to be with her prior to her disappearance, he would be a logical person to interview. Authorities will need to create a time line indicating when he was with her, who, if anyone saw her after he deployed to Afghanistan on February 2, and if there is any evidence she was even alive after she was last with her husband. Bethany Anne's family say it was highly unusual for her to go without contacting them via telephone or text message, and none can believe that she would disappear of her own volition without her young son. Her car was found parked at her home, but there is no evidence to indicate her whereabouts since January 29.
One looming question, of course, is why family members waited three weeks to report her missing. That was critical time that was lost in such an investigation, time that just could have been spent determining her whereabouts and interviewing her husband and other potential suspects or so-called "persons of interest."
For most investigators, it would be hard to not relate her husband to her disappearance, and while authorities have not called her disappearance to be evidence of foul play, this is the theory that will be foremost in the mind of the investigators seeking to find the young pregnant mother. We can only hope that Bethany Anne had not fallen victim to a crime like Lacy, Lori and Jessie before her.
For more information concerning personal and family safety and security, to obtain a free copy of our DVD "Protecting Children from Predators," and to find out the identity and location of sex offenders in your community, go to www.LiveSecure.org.