Please note: this case was resolved in early 2014. Tragically, suicide was the cause of death. This article remains as an example of how real life cases of ‘foul play’ (not this case) can make the ‘websleuth’ suspicious.
A bizarre website set up in the search for missing Leanne Hecht Bearden, 33, is suspiciously professional. It smacks of a proud marketing venture rather than a desperate search.
The domain (findleannebearden.com) was registered on 21 January and someone has gone to great lengths to design an attractive website more akin to a commercial product. Sections include “Press: First Week” and “News Coverage and Editorials”. Each article link has its own little icon.
When a loved one goes missing, who cares about design and carefully curated links to news articles?
The site states: We are looking to raise $10-20,000 to procure private investigators, search animals and helicopter services.
The language used seems unnatural: “As you can imagine, we are disappointed that today’s extensive search of the Garden Ridge area failed to lead to give us any more information as to Leanne’s whereabouts”. Surely “disappointed’ should be “devastated”?
Leanne Hecht Bearden completed a two year trip around the world trip with her husband Joshua, 39, only to go missing from Garden Ridge, Texas while visiting in-laws.
Her husband claims she simply never returned after a walk. But a strangely professional website has been created that documents the search with a collection of neatly presented articles from dozens of websites. One section states “Press First Week”.
Leanne and her husband Josh created a travel blog and appeared to be opposites who fell in love. After a brief visit to relatives in Texas they were due to return to work in Denver.
Police and Texas Rangers have not been able to locate Leanne Bearden, although the area is described as rugged and rocky. It is believed Bearden had approximately $60 cash, some credit cards and was wearing jeans and hiking boots.
Garden Ridge Police Department and dozens of local people have mounted a search for Leanne, described as 5ft 2 and 100 pounds.
Huffington Post report comments from a family friend, Chris Busch: “The options go from a twisted ankle to a snake bite…Is it possible she was abducted? Yeah. There were two attacks on women recently in the area. The police are looking into those. From our standpoint, we are just out there trying to cover as much ground as possible.”
According to local news Bearden has a degree in marketing from University of Georgia . Her husband, Josh graduated from Cole High School at Fort Sam Houston in 1992. He has a marketing degree from Texas A & M. The couple both lived and worked in Denver Colorado.
The website set up in the wake of Bearden’s dissapearance, neatly documents the search with sections such as News Coverage and Editorials and a Facebook page with over 10k ‘likes’ gives a description of the situation:
Leanne Hecht Bearden, 33, left her in-laws home in Garden Ridge, TX in the afternoon some time between 1:00 – 2:00 pm on Friday, January 17th. Her husband, Josh Bearden said that she left to go for a short walk and told him she would be back in an hour but she never returned home. Leanne was wearing a dark t-shirt, jeans and hiking boots. She is 5’2” and about 100 lbs. Her hair is brown and is about collar bone length.She did not have a cell phone on her (as the couple were sharing a cell phone at this time) and its thought that she had no more than $60 cash and her credit cards on her. She has not used her credit cards or her bank accounts since she has been gone. Law enforcement officials have no reason to suspect fold play at this point.