On the night of Feb. 7, 2003, Philadelphia heiress Anita Scott walked out of the magnificent 7,500-square-foot colonial home she shared with her husband of nearly 19 years, and drove off in a blinding snowstorm. She has not been heard from since.
Scott, who would now be 59, left behind a devoted family, cherished friends, millions of dollars, and an enduring mystery.
"I feel a great loss," said Lorma Crow, longtime best friend of the missing woman. "Maybe she never knew how much she meant to me. We were always there for each other."
The missing woman's husband, Ridgeley Scott, is perplexed by his wife's disappearance from their home in Delaware County, Pa.
"We're soul mates," Ridgeley Scott said. "She's the love of my life and I feel confident I'm the love of her life. I'd very much like it if I could go back and pick up life as it was before the seventh of February 2003."
Not First Disappearance
Anita Scott simply vanished into thin air. It wasn't the first time she had left home without warning, but her husband found her timing odd.
"I think the last thing she would do is voluntarily leave when her son was about to graduate from high school and begin his college career," Ridgeley Scott said. "She had on occasion in the past — maybe a half dozen times over a number of years — decided without warning to just drop off the face of the Earth."
But arguments had always preceded Anita's previous disappearances, and according to her husband, things were tranquil the night he saw her last. She simply got up from the dinner table around 6 p.m., walked out of the house and drove away.
"There was no animosity going on in the household during the day when she disappeared,'' Ridgeley Scott said. It would be more than two days before Scott reported his wife missing to police.
"I wasn't about to call police and push the panic button, and so forth, if this was another one of those episodes where she was just gone for a short period of time," he said. Two weeks later, though, the car that Anita drove that night, a 1986 Volkswagen Golf, was found in downtown Philadelphia. Oddly, it was parked near the home once owned by the uncle who had left her millions of dollars. According to authorities, her glasses and checkbook were in the car and the only fingerprints found were those of family members. There were no signs of foul play.
A Planned Getaway?
Authorities in Delaware County believe that the heiress left of her own free will.
"If I'm guessing as to what's happened and speculating at this point, I have to believe that she left the area and that she did that willingly," Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green said.
"I don't agree with the speculation that she decided she wanted to start a new life," Ridgeley Scott said. "Maybe she did, but I don't believe it."
But Anita's frequent unexplained disappearances weren't the only unorthodox aspect of her marriage. Her husband says he and his wife had separate bedrooms and separate bank accounts, and that she often chose to dine alone in their home.
Close friends are left wondering who, exactly, was the woman they thought they knew, the woman with a quick wit and generous heart.
"I have to wonder how well I did know her," Crow said. "I'm under the impression — and I think everyone else is — that she kept herself pretty compartmentalized and shared different things with different people, but she didn't share everything with one person.''
Braced for the Worst