Riley Crossman is a reliable teenager, according to her mother Chantel Oakley. So when Chantel wasn’t feeling well last Tuesday and decided to nap before an evening shift at work, she knew she could count on Riley to wake her up when she got home from school.
“And when she got home, she woke me up. She said, ‘It’s 3:30, time to wake up,’ and I said ‘Thanks, babe,’” Chantel told Dateline. “Riley said, ‘No problem.’ She was acting normal. She went toward her room and I got ready for work.”
After Chantel went to work, 15-year-old Riley’s evening continued on as usual. Her maternal grandmother was at the house until around 7:00 p.m., Chantel said, and Riley stayed in their Berkeley Springs, West Virginia home all evening.
“I got home from work around 10:00 p.m. Her door was shut, so by all accounts she was in her room, but I didn’t actually see her,” Chantel told Dateline.
Riley’s boyfriend would later tell family that he was on a video call with her until about 10:30 that night. Another friend said she was texting Riley until almost midnight. Family says phone records show that Riley’s phone was then inactive until around 5:40 a.m., at which time she tried to video call her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, who was asleep at the time, missed the call.
When Chantel woke up shortly after 7:15 a.m., Riley was no longer in her room. But, as close family friend Kelly Waugh told Dateline, that’s “not incredibly abnormal.”
“Riley walks right across the street to the school,” Kelly told Dateline. “And her school starts at 7:45 a.m., so leaving by 7:15 a.m. is normal to leave time for socializing. And her boyfriend was going on a field trip that day, so it was not abnormal that she went over early to say hi to him before he left for the field trip.”
The day passed with no red flags raised. But when Riley’s maternal grandmother told Chantel that Riley hadn’t arrived home from school by her normal time, Chantel began messaging her daughter to see where she was.
“At 3:30 I messaged her and said, ‘Where are you?’ I waited a second and the message didn’t deliver,” Chantel told Dateline. She then called Riley’s cell phone; it went to voicemail. A second text went undelivered, as well.
Chantel thought maybe Riley had dance rehearsal after school and forgot to mention it, so she asked her mother to walk across the street to Berkeley Springs High School to see if Riley was there.
Riley wasn’t at the school. Chantel told Dateline she left work around 5:00 p.m. and drove to the school to look for Riley. When she pulled in, Riley’s boyfriend was in the parking lot, having just arrived back from his field trip.
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“He had not talked to her all day since he was at the field trip,” Chantel said. After checking a few more areas of the school, Chantel went home to see if Riley had arrived by then. “I went upstairs and walked in her room and she wasn’t there. I was mad and scared because, at that point, no one had heard from her. Then I got the call from the school saying she had been marked absent.”
Upon hearing that Riley had not been at school, Chantel said she called 911 right away to report her daughter missing. After calling 911, Chantel called Riley’s father, Lance Crossman, who lives about 25 minutes away.
“I was at a work function -- we were having an awards banquet,” Lance told Dateline. It was kind of a fancy affair. So when Chantel called, I ignored the first call – not because I was being rude, but I figured I would call her after the banquet. But she called again immediately, and she never does that,” Lance said. “So I excused myself and took the call. The first thing she said was, ‘Riley’s missing.’ I automatically got in my car and drove to Berkeley Springs.”
Lance told Dateline he tried to stay calm as he drove around the small town.
“At that time I thought I was going to go to the park and find her,” he said. “But calls and texts were not going through. I sent her a message saying, ‘Riley, I don’t know what’s going on, but the police have been called and this is getting serious. You need to call me now.’”
Lance said he asked teenagers around town if they’d seen Riley. One person reported seeing her walking nearby, but family says the sighting has not been verified. Meanwhile, members of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office arrived at Chantel’s house and began their investigation.
“It was frantic after that. From then up until now -- it’s just nonstop,” Lance told Dateline. “We’ve had several volunteer searches that we’ve organized. There’s just been so many areas that we have covered on ground searches. It’s been the worst thing that’s ever happened to any of us. None of us are sleeping or eating very well,” he continued. “We do have a good support system and community support. But it’s been horrific.”
None of Riley’s accounts has been active since the morning of Wednesday, May 8 when she tried to contact her boyfriend via Facebook Messenger. It’s unclear if police have been able to track where Riley’s phone was when she sent those messages. Riley’s family friend Kelly told Dateline that an Amber Alert has not been issued because authorities “were uncertain if it was an abduction and had no leads on vehicles.”
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office did not reply to Dateline’s request for comment by Monday evening.
Riley’s parents said her boyfriend and his family have been help trying to locate Riley “since day one, from 7:00 a.m. to midnight.”
“He’s a pretty good kid. Riley has been pulling her grades up since she’s been with him,” Lance told Dateline. “He’s pretty tore up over this. I know that’s the first place people typically look for suspects, but it’s not the case here.”
Riley’s mother Chantel told Dateline Riley has not yet received her learner’s permit and did not have access to a car. She insists her daughter did not run away.
“That is why I immediately would start checking things, because she would not run away,” Chantel said. “She loves us. She wouldn’t want us to be upset.”
Riley’s father Lance agreed, telling Dateline, “She wouldn’t just run off. She has never hurt anyone in her life. She’s very gentle.”
Riley’s family fears their teenage daughter has been abducted.
“No matter where you live – California, Texas, Canada – please look for her,” Lance said. “We are afraid that she could be very far away at this point. She could be anywhere in the U.S. – or the continent. We just don’t know. Please take a second to care. This is our baby.”
“Please keep a prayer today in your hearts today for Riley Crossman and her family,” the post read.
According to a Monday press release, the FBI, the West Virginia State Police and multiple other agencies have joined the search for Riley.
“The investigative effort into finding Riley Crossman continues now to its sixth day. Law Enforcement has committed a maximum effort into her disappearance,” he release read. “The search and investigation has continued non-stop and law enforcement has logged hundreds of man hours.”
The release also said police are planning “a large coordinated search” for Wednesday, May 15. Volunteers are asked to meet near the Office of Emergency Services at 9:00 a.m. in the old War Memorial Parking lot. Riley’s high school has also asked the student body to support the search efforts.
“Riley is one of our own,” a Facebook post from the school’s account read. “Please wear blue and gold on Monday as a show of support from the BSHS community in the efforts to get her home safely.”
Riley Crossman is described as being 5’6” tall and weighing 125 lbs. with blue eyes and blonde hair. Riley’s family urges the public to also look for girls with all hair colors, as they believe Riley may have been abducted and could have been forced to change her appearance. If you have any information on the circumstances surrounding Riley’s disappearance, please call the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office at 304-258-1067.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.