On T.V. shows like Dateline, 20/20 or Disappeared, the crime victim or missing person is nearly always described as bubbly or extroverted. Cases of quieter people who didn’t necessarily “light up a room” are few and far between. Such is the case of 19 year old Virginia Wood, now missing for over 10 years.
Virginia, better known as “Ginni,” was described on her Disappeared episode as a shy, straight-A student who had trouble making friends. It’s really too bad she couldn’t expand her social circle as the closest friend she did have appears to have gotten her involved into a risky situation. Ginni’s best friend from childhood, Kelly Gaskins, disappeared along with her, in addition to Kelly’s boyfriend, Ervin Williams.
While Ginni was attending Appalachian State University, Kelly’s life was taking a much different turn. Ervin, her boyfriend was facing jail time for arson and assault, and Kelly herself was in trouble with the law. Both of these facts led to the pair taking off from their home town of Chocowinity the day after Christmas in 2006. From there, it’s unclear where they actually went. Some sources state that the pair took off to the border town of Brownsville, Texas. However, on Dissapeared, Kelly’s mother said Kelly called her in January from Matamoros, Mexico complaining that she did not like living there. Per Kelly’s NAMUS page, this was the last time she was heard from.
Ginni gets caught up in this particular story in March of 2007. She decides to visit Kelly for spring break. While she tells her mother she is going to Texas, to me it seems clear that she is aware that Kelly is already in Mexico, and that’s her true destination. Ginni’s mom speaks to her twice after she leaves North Carolina before calls start to go to voicemail. When Ginni doesn’t show up to classes the following Monday, she’s reported missing.
The Disappeared episode seems bent on portraying a narrative of Kelly as the bad girl and Ginni as the good girl. The reality, naturally, is more complicated. A commenter at Websleuths claiming to know the girls indicate that Ginny was planning on leaving for good, and that she and Kelly were in on the plan together. There were rumors the trio was intending on moving to Cancun.
Lending more credence to the run-away theory is evidence on Ginni’s computer that she was extremely distraught after two recent break-ups. Investigators also found a “file” on her computer (not sure if this was a letter or a diary entry of some sort) that detailed her unhappiness at her relationship with Kelly and how much she missed her. It’s possible she wanted a fresh start with a dearly missed friend. Perhaps in the time between that phone call with her mother in January and Ginni’s visit in March, life in Mexico began to grow on Kelly and she invited Ginni to live with her for a while.
But what exactly was Kelly inviting Ginni to? I found it fascinating that most of the images used to represent Kelly in the media are photos of a clean-cut girl with long, beautiful black hair, looking angelic. Her MySpace page, which is still accessible, shows a very different image. Her username is ‘gangstadruglord‘ and there are two photos with Kelly posing with a gun (including a particularly haunting one titled “Going out with a bang”). It’s possible Kelly was just being “edgy”, but it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
It’s worth noting that on a MySpace page dedicated to finding Kelly, the same photo of Kelly holding a gun is posted, with a caption that this was a “play gun.”
And then, there’s the Mexico issue. Kelly and Ervin were reportedly in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, a city that’s since been plagued with violent crime stemming from the Mexican drug war. Ginni’s phone pinged here, and the last instance of her credit card being used was at a grocery store in the town. Interestingly, the last place her phone pings is Monterrey, Mexico which is 3 hours away and is not on the way to Cancun.
This is one of those cases that I think could be solved, or at least generate usable leads, in 2017. There’d probably be a lengthy, detailed text and social media trail if this happened today. I do wonder what else was found on Ginny’s computer, and what else her phone records show. Who else was she texting or calling? Were her MySpace messages checked? At the time, texting was popular, I wonder if any of these were able to be recovered. Where is her credit card and car? Did she empty out her bank account before she left?
Sadly, I don’t think Kelly, Ervin, or Ginni are alive today. I do think Ginny made it into Mexico (a comment made by a woman named ‘Chelsea Bussey’ notes she was speaking to Ginni while she drove in, there is a woman on Ginni’s MySpace page named Chelsea Bussey so it may indeed be true), but I don’t think she made it very far after that. While her phone pinged in Monterrey, I don’t think the phone was with her at that point.
As far as for the rest, it’s hard to speculate. There are many unanswered questions and I feel that the police are holding a lot of information back. I find it hard to believe that no one spoke to Kelly or Ervin after the January call to Kelly’s family. Yet again, we’re faced with a situation in which someone knows something, and no one is talking.
It doesn’t appear that Ervin is on any missing persons registry, likely because he is a fugitive. Per Kelly’s Charley Project page, she wasn’t registered as a missing person until 2015. However, it looks like her NAMUS profile was filled out in 2010.