GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Eleven years ago, a Gastonia woman said “I love you” to her mother, then vanished.
Her family was left in anguish, and investigators were stumped.
They both gave Gaston County bureau reporter Ken Lemon access to a case starving for clues, with broken hearts hoping to be mended.
It was hard for Kim Fraley to open a box of items belonging to her daughter, Jamie Fraley.
"They say you got memories, but the memories are painful," Kim Fraley said.
Especially painful is the poem written by her daughter. It feels too much like a voice from the past speaking to a mother listening with a heavy heart.
"'Hold your head up high. Be the struggle when I die,'” Kim Fraley recited. “See, that's very eerie to me."
Even more so considering Kim Fraley hasn't heard her daughter's voice in more than a decade.
"It’s very painful. Very painful," she said.
Jamie Fraley, then 22 years old, lived in an apartment on Lowell Bethesda Road just outside of Gastonia. She and her mother spoke not long after midnight the night she vanished, 11 years ago.
(Kim and Jamie Fraley)
Jamie Fraley told her mother she had a stomach bug but refused her mom’s help.
"I said, 'Well, I love you.' She said, 'I love you, too,'" Kim Fraley remembered.
Police say Jamie Fraley later had another call, this time with a girlfriend. She ended that call with what were the last known words anyone would hear from her.
"She basically said, 'He is here,' but she didn't say who ‘he’ is," said Gaston County Police Department Detective Brian Dalton.
When Lemon pressed Dalton about who the man may have been, the detective said, "We don't know who he is."
(Det. Brian Dalton and Capt. Curtis Rosselle)
Jamie Fraley made that phone call at about 1 a.m. April 8. Her cellphone was found hours later off New Hope Road, about a mile and a half away from her home.
Police say it appears the phone might have been tossed from a passing car.
They questioned Jamie Fraley’s girlfriend several times, as well as her neighbors. They searched the lake across the street from Jamie Fraley's home.
Family members made thousands of fliers, conducted their own searches and even hired their own investigator. They went as far as speaking with a psychic, but no substantial clues have come in 11 years.
"Things get old. People's memories get fuzzy," said Gaston County Police Department Capt. Curtis Rosselle.
Investigators keep extensive records on Jamie Fraley’s case, including every tip they have followed.
"All these files here are the work that has been done over the past 11 years," Dalton said. "Probably the largest file at the Gaston County Police Department."
Police say the one critical thing missing is a tip from the person who knows what happened to Jamie Fraley -- a tip that would help her mother make sense of it all.
"What if it was your daughter, your sister, your child?" Kim Fraley asked.
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