PEA RIDGE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – On Nov. 18, 2006, 15-year-old April Andrews got into a brown truck near her home on Weston St. It was the last time anyone ever saw her.
“We want April back,” Pea Ridge Police Sgt. John Langham said. He remembers the case well.
Tonya Washburn is April’s half-sister.
“She was shy, she was a mama’s girl,” Tonya said. “She loved her mama.”
Tonya has shared April’s story many times over the past 15 years. This time, we spoke over Zoom because she’s undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
She says April’s mom is also battling cancer, underlining the urgency for a break in the case.
“I really want to find out what happened so that her mom will have an answer,” Tonya said.
Tonya feels in her heart April didn’t just run away.
“To me, it was someone she knew,” Tonya said. “And that somebody wasn’t a friend or wasn’t somebody that she could trust like she thought.”
In 2010, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office took over the investigation.
Lt. Hunter Petray says investigators started from ground zero, looking into April’s whereabouts earlier that day. He says her mother told police April was at a local church that morning but they can’t confirm that.
“Sometimes that’s difficult when you’re talking to somebody and asking them what they remember five years ago,” Lt. Petray said. “Do you remember what you did five years ago on a certain day?”
Lt. Petray says April’s case is very much still active.
In 2013, an anonymous letter led investigators to a pond in Benton County. Investigators drained it and dug through the mud but still, no April.
“It’s been hard because you hear them doing something and you get that little glimmer of hope,” Tonya said. “Oh, we are going to get an answer today.”
Tips and possible sightings continue to keep phones ringing at the sheriff’s office mainly because people will not let April’s case go cold.
“I remember banners being up,” Pea Ridge resident Micahel Connors said. “They had banners up with her picture on it. People were just concerned because it happened to someone of their own, a Pea Ridge resident.”
Michael Connors has lived in Pea Ridge for 15 years. He now lives in the same neighborhood April once called home.
“People do talk about it,” Connors said. “Wondering which apartment was it or how we heard about it.”
A puzzle the community has tried to put together for more than a decade.
“To have an answer and to put her to rest is what I’m looking for now,” Tonya said. “Especially with my cancer and I want to do something before something happens.”
Investigators may be close to finding that missing piece. Lt. Petray says his team has done interviews as recently as January, providing hope for a family desperate for answers.
“I can’t get into specifics but we feel like we’re close to knowing exactly what happened in this case and I’m confident we can get this resolved,” Lt. Petray.
April is now 30-years-old. She’ll turn 31 on April 14.
If you have any information regarding her disappearance contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at 479-271-1008.
During the course of April’s investigation, a Pea Ridge police officer also went missing.
In 2006, Ofc. Cerilla Doyle took the initial report on April Andrews’ disappearance.
Two years later, Doyle herself disappeared. She was last seen in October 2008.
Investigators say Doyle left her family her car title and a note to take care of her pets. Then, she boarded a bus in Rogers.
Ten years later, her body was found in rural Iowa. Lt. Petray says this and April’s are not connected.
“To set the record straight, There is no involvement between her disappearance and April’s disappearance none whatsoever that we have been to link or one that we feel slightly, remotely involved,” Lt. Petray said.
KNWA requested more information from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations including Doyle’s official cause of death but we did not receive an answer.
A news release in 2018 stated there was no indication of foul play.