EXCLUSIVE: New ‘movement’ in search for Virginia woman missing since 2011

A Loudoun County, Virginia, woman disappeared back in 2011, and now investigators said there has been new “movement” in her case.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman told WTOP, “We have had movement as recently as last week” in the eight-year search to determine who killed 21-year-old Bethany Decker, who was five months pregnant when last seen by her live-in boyfriend in their Ashburn, Virginia, apartment.

Though not specifying the development, Chapman said it came after a January search warrant of Decker’s Facebook account.

Soon after Decker’s disappearance on Jan. 29, 2011, investigators learned she had been in an abusive relationship with Ronald Roldan, while her husband, Emile Decker, an Army National Guardsman, was deployed in Afghanistan. 

Loudoun County investigators have never charged Roldan or named him as a suspect, but have said he is no longer willing to answer questions about Decker’s disappearance. Detectives have said “there are no other suspects” other than Roldan in Decker’s disappearance.

Two weeks after Decker disappeared in 2011, Emile Decker told investigators he received a “sketchy” email, “and did not believe it was sent by Bethany,” according to a Facebook search warrant affidavit filed Jan. 9 of this year.

“Suspicious activity was also later reported on Bethany’s Facebook account by her mother and some of Bethany’s friends,” according to the warrant signed by detective Michael Boone, who was instrumental in solving the Charlottesville murders of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, by linking Jesse Matthew Jr. to a 2005 rape in Fairfax County.

Since 2011, better technology has helped investigators pinpoint the origination of suspicious online activity, providing Loudoun detectives with new tools to re-examine Decker’s account

Chapman said, “Ronald Roldan still remains a person of interest, and we’re still looking into every aspect of what may have happened, concerning his last contact with her.”

Roldan is currently serving time in a North Carolina prison. He had been charged with attempted murder after a 2014 domestic violence attack on girlfriend Vickey Willoughby in her home in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

In May 2016, Roldan pleaded guilty to two reduced charges: felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury.

Police in Moore County, North Carolina, responded to a 911 call for a domestic violence incident at 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2014. Police said Willoughby shot Roldan in self-defense twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen. Roldan grabbed Willoughby’s .38-caliber handgun and shot at her three times, hitting her in the head and leg. She lost an eye in the shooting.

The charges were consolidated into one sentence, with a minimum of six years and a maximum of eight years, three months.

North Carolina prison records list Roldan’s projected release date as Jan. 15, 2021, although his next custody review is Aug. 1, 2019.

When he was convicted, North Carolina prosecutors said after Roldan finishes his prison time, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will take him into custody for deportation proceedings to Bolivia.

Loudoun County sources expect a grand jury be asked to indict Roldan for Decker’s murder. Her remains have never been found, and investigators have never said they recovered any forensic evidence of murder.

“It’s going to primarily, I would imagine, be a circumstantial case,” said Chapman. “You have to compile all the evidence, and see where it all leads, and make sure you have enough to achieve a conviction.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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