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Watch the Dateline episode "The Jacket" now

Andrea Canning reports.

It all started in March 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia.

18-year-old AJ Hadsell was a freshman at Longwood University and when spring break rolled around, she headed home to Norfolk.

But then, on March 2, she vanished. Seemingly into thin air.

She left behind a cryptic note. Stopped answering text messages altogether.

Some thought AJ had reached a breaking point and maybe ran away.

Her parents knew she had been stressed out; college was harder than anticipated and she was going through a breakup with her boyfriend.

AJ’s family reported her missing to the Norfolk Police Department on March 3, 2015.

Detective David Benjamin was assigned to the case. He said it started out as a typical missing persons investigation, but quickly became much more. The close-knit community rallied behind AJ’s family to offer its support.

Learn more about the search for AJ:

The Search for AJ Hadsell

June 2, 202202:49

It didn’t take long for Det. Benjamin to come to the conclusion that AJ wouldn’t just run away. He grew concerned that AJ was in danger. “It was looking more and more like an abduction,” he told Dateline. The Norfolk Police Department requested state and federal investigative assistance and help from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The clock was ticking to find AJ.

Officials worked tirelessly for weeks until the investigation led them to an abandoned house and revealed how sometimes those closest to us can hurt us the most...

Friends remember AJ as a strong and adventurous girl who touched the lives of those around her:

Remembering AJ Hadsell

June 2, 202201:11

To find out what happened to AJ, watch the full episode, “The Jacket,” now.

You can also watch on Peacock TV or listen to the podcast.