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Missing but not forgotten: search continues for Franklin County mother

By Frankie Jupiter, fjupiter@wdbj7.com
Published On: Nov 19 2013 11:11:36 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 19 2013 11:23:45 PM EST

A three-year-old little girl in Franklin County has been living without her mother for more than a year and a half.
Heather Hodges vanished more than a year ago.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. -

A three-year-old little girl in Franklin County has been living without her mother for more than a year and a half. Heather Hodges vanished in April 2012.

“She's somebody's child she deserves to be found, that keeps me going,” said friend Wendy Nichols.

Nichols refuses to stop searching for her friend. “I have no idea, don't have any clues where she is; no where to look,” said Nichols.

Hodges was last seen in her Franklin County home. In the past, family members made pleas to the public to help find Hodges. On the one year anniversary of Hodges' disappearance the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said leads in the case have slowed down, but haven't stopped.

Nichols hopes Hodges is still alive. “I have hope she is, and I want her to be but reality tells me she's probably not,” said Nichols.

Nichols has spent time over the last year and a half posting missing person flyers, looking through nearby wooded areas and using her own money hoping to find information on Hodges whereabouts. Nichols says she has also asked the sheriff's office for help.

“We get nowhere; we get no help, no assistance, nothing,” said Nichols.

WDBJ7 called the Franklin County Sheriff's office several times over the last few weeks about the case. Our calls were never returned. In June 2012 sheriff's investigators announced they had evidence that a "violent event" surrounded Hodges' disappearance. And the case was being treated as a criminal investigation.

Authorities said Hodges was no stranger to disappearing in the past, but not for long periods of time and not without contacting someone.

“If she left for a couple of days, it wouldn't have been more than that, without contacting anybody with her daughter. She wouldn't have done that,” said Nichols.

Hodges was no stranger to being on the wrong side of the law. Nichols says she hopes that's not the reason for what seems to be a lack of interest in the case. She says Hodges' life may have not been a fairytale, but she was loved.

That's not her story right now. Her story is not about what she did it's about what's happening to her right now. And if everybody gives up on her and everybody quits looking for her and everybody quits talking, that's how her story ends as the girl did drugs or the girl who went missing. That's not Heather's story as long as I have breath in me, that won't be her story.

Nichols also says she believes the answers about what happened to Hodge's lie beyond the gate where she lived. She just hopes somebody comes forward with information to find her friend.