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Charlottesville Police Seek New Clues in Cold Case: Documentary May Spark Leads

Charlottesville police are again searching the home of a young man who disappeared in November of 2012.  They say they’re retracing their footsteps – hoping to find some new leads.  They may also get calls following a documentary to be shown on the Investigation Discovery channel Wednesday.

Critics say the Sage Smith case never got the attention that Hannah Graham would get three years later.

The disappearance of Hannah Graham – a University of Virginia student -- sparked a massive search with volunteers coming from around the state.  Her remains were found 36 days later.  That was not the case for Sage Smith, a gay black man who enjoyed cross dressing. His mother, Latasha Dennis, wonders if race and gender were the reasons.

“I’m not trying to take away from that situation, because believe me I felt for her mother," she says,  "but when I looked at it on TV it did make me feel like, Wow, I didn't  feel like I got that much support in the community.”

But in a documentary produced by the Investigation Discovery Channel, Lieutenant James Mooney says Charlottesville police have tried hard to solve this case.

"Why did  a thousand media trucks show up for Hannah Graham and only a few for Sage's case?" he wonders. "It's a societal problem that we have.  A lot of people need to ask those questions -- why these cases were treated differently." 

Whatever the reason, police are hoping to get new leads when a documentary called Born This Way is shown on cable. The program  details the case and gives voice to Smith’s family.

“We just want to know what happened," says a tearful sister.  "We just want to know  so that we can sleep at night.”

Police say their investigation is on-going, and they’re still looking for Eric McFadden -- the last person to speak with Smith by phone.  

The program will be on Investigation Discovery Wednesday, May 9th at 7, or you can watch it online here.

Charlottesville Police have established a tip line -- 434-970-3381 -- for anyone with information about what may have happened to Smith. 

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief