(NewsNation) — Fifteen years after Barbara Blount disappeared, her family still wonders who is behind the disappearance of a beloved family member who vanished from her home. The 58-year-old has been legally declared dead, but her family still has no idea what happened to her.
Christmases in Louisiana have been much bluer since Suzanne Honeycutt’s beloved Aunt Barbara disappeared.
“You know, the old Christmas carol, ‘Bells Will Be Ringing’? Well, that song always reminds me of her. I think Barbara Ann was probably about 19 at the time. And every time I hear that song, in fact, I would call or when I’d hear it on the radio,” Honeycutt said. “I would call her up and say, ‘Barbara Ann our song is on!'”
Honeycutt said Blount wasn’t the type of woman who would disappear.
“First and foremost, she loved God, very, very good, strong woman of faith, loved her children and her family,” she said.
Honeycutt said her aunt was the type of woman who raised her family with high standards.
“She raised them up to be good, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens and, you know, to pay your bills and do the right thing and work hard,” Honeycutt said.
In addition to raising her family, Blount had many hobbies, like teaching Bible Study, gardening and raising cattle.
“She’d be hauling 5-pound buckets of feed to the cows, and also feeding the fish in her ponds. She was a strong lady overall,” Honeycutt said.
That’s one of the many reasons her family still can’t wrap their head around how Blount could be missing for fifteen years.
On May 2, 2008, Blount planned to take advantage of a beautiful day, cleaning and organizing her kitchen. She wore a tank top, shorts and purple LSU crocs.
Blount’s daughter stopped by the house in the morning on her way to work.
“She saw her mom and said, ‘OK, I’ll check in with you later. I’ll call you later,'” Honeycutt said.
But just hours later, no one could reach Blount. When a family member went to the home, they knew something was wrong.
“The door was left open six to 10 inches, and her cordless home phone was out on the carport,” Honeycutt said. “Nothing was gone but her.”
Maj. Ben Bourgeois was one of the police who responded immediately.
“There were no signs of forced entry. There were no signs inside the residence of any kind of struggle,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois and Sheriff Jason Ard said police were already investigating another suspicious call after someone reported a vehicle in the woods.
That car turned out to be Blount’s silver Toyota, parked in the woods off a hunting club road. Blount’s keys were found lying on the gravel road beside the car.
“For a nice, clean, well-maintained vehicle like that, to be parked off into the woods on a hunting club road was just very suspicious and out of place,” Bourgeois said.
By the time police were able to get a tow truck to bring the car in for the investigation, a downpour of rain had compromised the evidence.
“There was an inch of water in the floorboard of the vehicle. So that’s how much rain had come just in that few hours there,” Bourgeois said.
At Blount’s home, police found things undisturbed. Among the belongings left behind were her glasses, cellphone and even her guns.
“When they took her or when they lured her away. It was for her and no one else,” Honeycutt said.
The only sign of a possible struggle was in the carport. Blount’s cordless landline phone was found on the ground with the batteries out.
Police said it’s difficult to link any of that to foul play.
“If she went outside, she would bring that cordless phone outside. And with the storm that came through, it could have easily been blown over,” Bourgeois said.
Investigators noted that there were many ways a phone could be damaged.
“She could have dropped it out of being startled, she could have dropped it out of a struggle. You know, one of the dogs could have knocked it off the counter. I mean, we don’t really know,” Ard said.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office pored over Blount’s cellphone and landline records but found nothing out of the ordinary.
The family has also asked investigators to look into any links to Blount’s husband’s death. He was killed in an explosion in 2004, when a freight train hit his tanker truck. Honeycutt said they’ve asked the sheriff’s department to investigate if there could be a connection there.
As for other possible relationships, the family and police have said there was no evidence Blount was dating anyone at the time of her disappearance.
In recent years, the sheriff’s office also got another tip, which they ruled out.
A couple from Alabama came forward saying they believed they saw Blount where her car was found in 2008. The couple claimed she was speaking with a man in a pickup truck.
Investigators looked into it and believe the couple actually saw the witness who found Blount’s vehicle.
“We believe that that is the same person they saw whenever they were passing through, going to Alabama,” Bourgeois said.
But police said within the last few months, they’ve had a new lead on the case.
“We just want to stick to the facts. But I think we’re going to solve it,” Bourgeois said.
The information may not lead to a happy ending.
“I believe that she was murdered. That’s obvious to us,” Ard said.
But questions remain — if Blount was murdered, how did it happen, and who did it?
Honeycutt hopes the newest information will lead to closure.
“Just because whoever did this, doesn’t feel guilty about it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to give up,” she said. “You’re going to have to answer to God one day.”
For the family, years of not knowing what happened to Blount has taken a toll. Honeycutt’s mother and Blount’s sister, Sarah Boughman, now has dementia.
But even now, she still remembers her sister is missing.
“We’re still praying God will give us peace and let us understand and know what happened to her. She was a loving sister and we were very close,” Boughman said.
No matter how many years Blount has been missing, the family still want police to determine what happened and who is responsible.
“We’ve never given up hope and we never will,” Honeycutt said.