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Four years later, search continues for missing county woman

It’s been almost four years since the charred remains of a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta belonging to Hattie Gertrude Brown were found on a Virgilina farm.

Brown, 48, at the time of her disappearance, has not been seen since the early morning hours of Saturday, May 16, 2009.

Still, her family says they have not given up hope.

“It’s been long and painful, but we’re hanging in there, keeping the faith and taking one day at a time,” said Hattie’s older sister, Diane Brown.

“We’re still hoping, even though it’s been four years, that someone will come forward with information,” she added.

The family has hired a private investigator from Danville who they “touch base with” every week to offer anything that may help lead them to their missing sister.

Four years have passed since the family last spoke with Hattie, and Diane said this week she continues to miss her sister.

Following her disappearance back in May, 2009, there had been no trace of the missing woman or her car until Tuesday, July 7, 2009, when a farmer cutting hay discovered the charred remains of the Volkswagen Jetta on farmland near Virgilina.

The farmer was working on his property in the southeastern corner of Halifax County when he came upon an abandoned vehicle behind an old barn. The vehicle had been completely destroyed by fire.

Special Agent Troy LaRue of the Virginia State Police said the farmer found the burned-out Volkswagen and told his son. They contacted the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office who then contacted Agent LaRue and the Appomattox Division Office of the state police.

It appeared the car was burned at the site where it was found and had been at the site for some time.

State police, the sheriff’s office personnel and South Boston Police had been searching for Hattie Brown and her vehicle since they were last seen May 16, 2009 at a Sheetz gas station at the intersection of Route 501 and Route 58 in Riverdale. 

A video camera captured the woman and her car at the gas station at approximately 2:33 a.m. Investigators found that she was accompanied at the gas station by her nephew, who law enforcement officers at that time described as a “person of interest” in the case.

Since her disappearance four years ago, Brown’s family has offered a cash reward of $25,000 for their loved one’s safe return.

Hattie Brown is a black female with brown eyes and black, shoulder-length hair. She is approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall, 155 pounds and was last seen wearing a sleeveless top and pants with side stripes. 

The missing woman will turn 53 this year on Sept. 21.

Since she went missing in 2009, two of her brothers have passed away. Andrew, who was 59, died three years ago on July 31, and Adolphus died this year on May 25 at the age of 70.

Diane said not a day goes by that she doesn’t think of her missing sister.

She passes the days working on the farm taking care of her chickens and turkeys, canning fruits and vegetables and making preserves, jams and jellies. She also works part-time in security.

“We won’t ever give up until we find out what happened to her,” she said this week.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Brown is asked to contact the Appomattox Division of the Virginia State Police toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-552-0962 or at (454) 352-7128. The state police also can be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 

Those with information about this case also can contact the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office at 434-476-3334 or the South Boston Police Department at 434-575-4271.