Watch CBS News

What happened to Julie Vessigault? Elk Grove woman seemingly vanished in January 2024

What happened to Julie Vessigault?
What happened to Julie Vessigault? 05:35

SACRAMENTO — Julie Vessigault has been missing for nearly five months since she seemingly vanished from Elk Grove.

"My hope is a miracle is going to happen," said Julie's youngest sister Melanie Worden. "That someone's going to see her, someone's going to remember her."

Julie is known for her passion for planes and being positive, but the 47-year-old was last seen in Elk Grove on January 23, 2024.

"Her disappearance consumed me," Worden said.

Worden told CBS13 that on that day, Julie left behind her purse, phone, checks and cash on the counter of her apartment in Laguna West, where she was staying with her mother and her mother's caretaker. She said she only took her keys and bank card.

A single photo from a traffic camera captured the last time she was seen. It shows Julie in a 2005 tan Toyota Camry, with a Georgia license plate, driving westbound on Elk Grove Boulevard at Harbor Pointe Drive.

Investigators with the Elk Grove Police Department, who have been on the case since the start, said cameras are not at every intersection and her license plate has not shown up on any other plate reader across the state since.

Loved ones said Julie was always drifting from place to place. She was in and out of foster care growing up.

"She has always been—never stays in one spot for very long," Worden said.

Last year, when Julie learned her biological father with special needs was entering hospice care, she decided to make the temporary move from Georgia to Elk Grove in late October 2023 to spend time with him.

He died in early November, causing her change of heart to stay permanently to help take care of her mother who also has special needs.

"When she was there and she realized how much care my mom needed, it became a little overwhelming for her," Worden said.

Finding work in a new city and caring for her mother proved to be difficult for Julie. She spent every chance she could at the Sacramento Executive Airport, surrounded by planes, which brought her joy.

Family members who were just growing close with her again think she may have been struggling more than they knew.

"The thing that my mom said [that] was unusual is Julie would usually say bye to her or let her know where she was going," Worden said. "She said Julie didn't say anything to her."

No one has seen Julie since that January 23 afternoon.

"The trail has gone cold. Her vehicle hasn't been seen. Her social media is quiet. She hasn't contacted friends or family," said Elk Grove Police Sergeant Jason Jiminez.

Sgt. Jiminez said Julie had a history of going off-grid, but she would always contact family or friends within days of taking off.

"At one point in time, she did check herself into a mental health hospital because she understood she was struggling and she needed help, but it was always very, very temporary," Worden said.

It is because of this history that police first categorized her as "voluntary missing." They upgraded her to "at-risk" on February 27, a little over one month after she seemingly vanished.

"Julie was reported two days later after she was last seen, so we were already a little bit behind the clock on that," Sgt. Jiminez said.

He assures investigators have been working the case tirelessly.

"They've been searching areas. They reached out to neighboring counties," Sgt. Jiminez said. "Now, they are even reaching out to neighboring states."

They have yet to uncover any leads.

"We have nothing to suggest that foul play is a part of this at all," Sgt. Jiminez said.

Kurt Hoffman, Julie's good friend in the aviation community, has been trying to raise awareness about Julie's disappearance and said she cleaned planes for a living.

"She actually told me that the aviation community saved her," Hoffman said.

She may not have been a pilot, but she would fly with someone anytime she could.

"I like to call it 'framily', friends who have become family," Hoffman said.

That "framily" is spread across the country and now and are all concerned for Julie. They have been posting daily on the Facebook page Helping Find Julie Vessigault.

The Office of Attorney General's page also listed Julie as a missing person. The page said she was last seen in a gray T-shirt with "Sacramento Executive Airport" on the front and blue jeans.

"She's a kind person and she's always faced so many obstacles in her life, but she's always done the best she could," Tracy Vessigault said.

Tracy and Anthony Vessigault were Julie's former sister- and brother-in-law.

"I worry that if she was driving out around the delta somewhere, there are so, so many bodies of water that she could have driven into," Tracy said.

The woman who loved being in the air is now being searched for in a similar fashion.

Police have scanned from up above the waterways, the preserve area to the west of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Executive Airport.

"It seems like the longer someone is missing that the less likely there is a good outcome, but I just keep hoping and praying that there will be," Tracy said.

In 2023, Elk Grove police solved 74 of the 78 missing person cases, but nearly five months later, there are still no new clues of where Julie is.

"We don't know if she got on I-5 north or south," Sgt. Jiminez said. "We don't know if she continued westbound into the delta area. We don't know."

The aviation lover who was just reconnecting with loved ones was abruptly disconnected, leaving behind practically no trail that even technology can track and no reason why she took off.

"Her laugh was infectious," Worden said. "I miss getting to know her again. That's the hardest thing, I think."

Police said there has been no activity on any of Julie's credit cards since her disappearance. They also have obtained her phone that she left at her mother's apartment. Investigators said they have nothing to lead them to believe this is a case of foul play.

If you have any information about Julie's disappearance or have seen her, contact Elk Grove police.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.