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21 years after Valdosta mother and son go missing, family still looking for answers

Mary Ramsbottom, sister of Paula Wade and aunt of Brandon Wade, is still searching for them 21 years after their disappearance.
Posted at 6:40 PM, Nov 13, 2023
  • Paula and Brandon Wade have been missing since Oct. 13, 2002.
  • The case has been added to the FBI's Missing Person's list and has developed age progression photos.
  • Watch the video to hear how Mary Ramsbottom, Paula's sister and Brandon's aunt, is continuing the search.


After 21 years, this woman is still searching for answers about her sister and nephew's disappearance.

I'm Malia Thomas, in Valdosta. I met up with Mary Ramsbottom to see how the family is keeping the case alive.

"How do you describe the void that their disappearance has left in your life?"

"How do you live with it? There comes a time in the very beginning whenever you're searching and searching, and you know you're trying to get media and all of these things... but life is going on around you."

This is Mary Ramsbottom, the big sister of Paula Wade.

It's been a long time since her sister disappeared along with her son in Valdosta.

Since Oct. 13 , 2002, Ramsbottom has been searching for them.

Her search brought her back to Valdosta this week.

Memories of the past drive her to find answers in the future.

"I was showing her, I said 'Look, we can flip this lens and take a picture of ourselves!', and that's the picture of just her and I smiling. And so we always, you know, I always joke that Paula and I invented the selfie before selfie was a thing."

Paula moved around a lot as a child.

Her father was in the military.

She married a soldier and moved with him to Valdosta inn 1997 when he was stationed at Moody Air Force Base.

Not to long after...Brandon was born.

Mary tells me he...

"was just inquisitive, He loved to play ball; that was his favorite thing. 'Just play ball with me, auntie play ball with me!'"

Paula held down a job at Sam's Club, where her memory still lingers to this day.

"We were out here on the anniversary handing out flyers at Sam's Club, and a worker approached us, approached me, and said that, her exact words were 'Paula was precious.'"

Mary tells me that nothing was out of the ordinary in the days leading up to Paula's disappearance.

She was planning to move to Central Florida.

It wasn't until a missed family phone call and Paula's absence at work the next morning that alarm bells went off.

An incident report was filed.

Valdosta Police went into action immediately.

A search turned up no answers.

"Everything was still in the apartment the only thing missing is the car seat none of it makes sense."

Mary tells me that despite the talks they've had with Valdosta Police; the family doesn't know much.

I checked with VPD.

Chief Leslie Manahan tells me the investigation is still active.

"We just came up on the anniversary of the missing date, and we're just seeking out the public's help in trying to get more information."

I also learned:

-Brandon's father is not a person of interest in the case.

-Police describe Paula's apartment as "lived-in" but there were no signs of struggle

-Paula's vehicle was left behind

- and the FBI has created age progression photos of Paula and Brandon.

Mary urges anyone who may have information to come forward.

She's also sending this message.

"Paula and Brandon, you are loved, and you are missed."

Mary Ramsbottom is active on social media for tips leading to the resolution of Paula and Brandon's case; you can reach out to Mary McGrath Ramsbottom on Facebook as well as visit

In Valdosta, I'm Malia Thomas, reporting for ABC27.