Family, authorities call for renewed help to find missing woman who disappeared one year ago

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Family and friends of a 20-year-old woman who went missing last year in Spotsylvania County held a vigil Monday night on the one-year anniversary of her disappearance.

More than a dozen people gathered in Fredericksburg to release balloons in Katelin Akens' honor as her loved ones said they will not give up hope in finding her. While hopes, prayers and balloons were released into the night, there are still many questions about what has happened to her.

"Katelin, if you're out there, we do love you, we do want you to come home," said Akens' mother, Lisa Sullivan. "The baby misses you, I miss you, all of us do."

Sullivan last saw her daughter on Dec. 5, 2015 when she dropped her off at her ex-husband's house in Partlow, Virginia. He told police he drove her to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station so she could catch a flight to Arizona from Reagan National Airport.

"It's been a year now and we don't have anything new - nothing," said Sullivan.

Akens' luggage was found two days later in a drainage ditch along River Road in the area of Motts Run Reservoir in Fredericksburg. The Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office said in a press release that the contents inside her suitcase "were items Katelin would not willingly have left behind."

Akens' disappearance has taken a toll on her family, but they are hoping their messages scrawled on the balloons may reach someone who knows something about her and cause them to finally come forward with information about her.

"It's the hardest thing we've ever done," said aunt Pam Rogowski. "We don't know what to do, what to say or anything."

"You've missed so much," said the missing woman's mother, making a plea to her if she is out there. "I don't want you to miss any more. We want to see you. We want to see you smiling."

Authorities are now asking for the public's help again for information that may assist them in locating Akens and they said they will investigate any tip or lead in this missing person's case.

"Katelin recently enrolled in Cosmetology School and was looking forward to starting her career, and a new chapter of her life," the sheriff's office said. "She was also very close to her sister, Gabrielle, and communicated with her daily. Her absence has been felt by her friends and family members."

Anyone with information about Akens is asked to call the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office at 1-800-928-5822 or 1-540-582-5822.