On March 9, 2000, Leah Roberts decided to travel from Durham, North Carolina, to Washington state in her 1993 white Jeep Cherokee. According to her friends and family members, this road trip was meant to be one of self-discovery and reflection following immense grief.
By the young age of 23, Leah had already lost both of her parents. Her father died of a rare lung disease; meanwhile, her mother passed away due to a heart condition.
On top of these losses, Leah herself had actually experienced a near-fatal car crash– which left her with a metal rod inside her leg that supported her femur bone.
So, Leah’s brother, Heath Roberts, believed that his sister was looking to get away from all of the challenges she experienced at home.
“I think that all of these things together had the cumulative effect of making Leah even more introspective and probably more aware that, although she didn’t know what she wanted to do, I think she was unhappy that she wasn’t achieving it,” Heath said in an interview with Unsolved Mysteries.
Throughout the ups and downs of her young life, Leah also found comfort when reading the famed Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac. He wrote about the various road trips he took across North America– with Leah’s favorite being “The Dharma Bums.”
It appears that both Leah’s turbulent past, and the writings of Kerouac, inspired her to set out on a road trip to clear her mind and escape.
So, just three months before the 23-year-old was set to graduate from North Carolina State University, she withdrew from her courses.
Then, Leah packed up her cat, Bea, and some of her belongings before heading toward Desolation Peak– one locale from “The Dharma Bums” that was located 3,000 miles away from her home.