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Searching For Missing Persons

The Timeline Of The Jenna Van Gelderen Disappearance

The last time anyone heard from Jenna Van Gelderen was around 2 a.m. on Aug. 19, 2017, when she texted a friend that she was going to lie down.

By Aly Vander Hayden

In the early morning hours of Aug. 19, 2017, Jenna Van Gelderen settled into bed at her family’s home in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. At the time, she was housesitting for her parents, Leon Van Gelderen and Roseanne Glick, who were on vacation in Canada, and watching their elderly cat, Jessie. 

Jenna texted a friend that she was going to lie down around 2 a.m., and that was the last time anyone heard from the missing 25-year-old.

It has been more than two years since Jenna vanished, and police have released limited information about the case, leaving her family desperately searching for answers.

Get up to speed on the case with the timeline below:

Friday, Aug. 18, 2017

Jenna's last known movements on Aug. 18, 2017 were tracked by cell phone, DeKalb Police Capt. Anthony Ford told “Searching For,” an original series on Oxygen.com. The records show that around 10:30 p.m., Jenna left the house to go meet a friend.

Will Van Gelderen, Jenna’s brother, was able to access her phone records and social media accounts after she went missing. Through a series of Google chats, the family learned that someone — they don’t know who — had been pressuring Jenna to leave her parents’ house and return to her apartment that night, said Leon.

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Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017

Jenna returned to her parents’ house at 1:15 a.m., and she texted a friend that she was going to lie down around 2 a.m. on Aug. 19, which was the last known time anyone heard from her, said Capt. Ford.

Following her disappearance, Jenna’s family learned she had a second cell phone, which was not part of her parents’ family plan. The second phone pinged a tower in Fairburn, Georgia, about 20 miles away from her home, at approximately 7:15 a.m. on the morning she vanished.

Her car was spotted by a license plate reader camera back in Atlanta around the same time. It is unknown if Jenna was with her phone, in her car or at neither location.

Sometime that morning, a veterinary nurse arrived at the home to administer an injection to Jessie, but no one answered the door. The nurse then contacted Will, who came over to let him inside.

The lights and TV had been left on, and the doors of the house were locked, according to Will. Jenna’s handbag, cell phones and car were missing, and she was nowhere to be found.

Strangely, Will also noticed a large, heavy Egyptian tapestry had been removed from its spot on the living room, according to Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta. The textile had been stolen from its glass frame, which was then replaced on the wall, said the family.

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Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017

Jenna was officially reported missing on Aug. 20, after her parents contacted several of her friends and realized no one had heard from her in the past 48 hours.

Roseanne told “Searching For” it was “out of character for Jenna not to be in touch,” adding that they often spoke to each other multiple times a day. Roseanne also noted that Jenna was “very attached” to Jessie and would have never left the 21-year-old cat unattended.

Monday, Aug. 21, 2017

Leon and Roseanne returned to the U.S. on Aug. 21, and when they arrived at their home, Roseanne said she thought she “was going to see Jenna, she’s going to be here.”

After noticing Jenna had left behind her sneakers, cell phone charger and makeup bag, however, Roseanne feared the worst.

“It was a strange feeling ... I felt like something is not right, something has happened,” she told “Searching For.” “I knew something was wrong.”

The prior year, Jenna had been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, a symptom of which is a reliance on routine. That meant Jenna would have never left without her personal items, according to Leon and Roseanne.

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Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017

On Sept. 5, Jenna’s dark blue 2010 Mazda 6 sedan was discovered along a road in northwest Atlanta, reported NBC News. The car was found unlocked, and her handbag, suitcase and clothing were inside, according to Leon.

Leon told “Searching For” that the car was covered in leaves and various debris, and items were scattered across the interior.

There was also evidence that another person had driven Jenna’s car, said police. The driver seat pushed back, indicating a taller person might have been driving it, Dekalb County Police Department Capt. Anthony Ford told “Searching For.”

Police found no further evidence inside Jenna’s car, said Capt. Ford, and it has since been returned to the family.

Once the car was returned to the family, Will spotted a cell phone charger that did not match either of Jenna’s phones inside, according to Leon.

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There have been no reported sightings of Jenna since August 2017.

She was last seen possibly wearing a green T-shirt with “San Antonio” on the front, a black tank top and black yoga pants. She is 4 feet, 11 inches tall, and weighs approximately 140 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

If you have any information in connection to her case, please contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477 or the GBI Tip Line at 1-800-579-8477. Crime Stoppers and the Van Gelderen family are offering a combined $50,000 reward for information regarding Jenna’s disappearance.

For case updates and to help us dive into these disappearances, join the Searching For Facebook group.