A Tacoma newspaper reporter who disappeared 12 years ago, leaving a mystery that clouded the career of newly named Pierce County Sheriff Mark French, has been found alive, authorities said Tuesday.
Jody Roberts is well and living in another state, said Joanne Elledge with the King County sheriff’s office. French had asked King County police to investigate the case.
Roberts’ location, disclosed by a former co-worker, was being withheld at her family’s request, Elledge said. Roberts told investigators she had not been aware anyone was looking for her, Elledge said.
Roberts spoke Tuesday with her family in Lake Oswego, Ore. They had not heard from her since 1985, Elledge said.
“It was a total shock for them, but a very pleasant shock,” Elledge said. She said she did not know what they discussed.
“I know they were very happy she’s been found.”
Police won’t say why Roberts disappeared, only that no crime was involved. Elledge said the family has asked that the circumstances surrounding Roberts’ disappearance not be revealed for now, while they adjust to the news.
Elledge said she did not know Roberts’ marital status, but that she had children and “had assumed another name.”
Roberts, then 27 and working for the News Tribune of Tacoma, failed to appear for an assignment at Pacific Lutheran University on May 20, 1985, and vanished.
“Everyone at the News Tribune feels a tremendous feeling of relief to know that Jody Roberts is alive,” said Tom Osborne, senior editor at the newspaper. “For 12 years we’ve all wondered what happened to a wonderful colleague and a good reporter. We would love to know more, but we’re happy today just to know that Jody’s alive.”
A fired Pierce County sheriff’s deputy alleged in court documents in an unrelated lawsuit that French had threatened Roberts in March 1985 over a story about alleged cocaine usage by French.
French, who was a captain at the time, said he didn’t threaten Roberts, though he did ask her not to write about the allegations and if she did, to interview him before publication.
French did not immediately return a phone call for comment Tuesday.
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