FRANKLIN COUNTY, VA --
For 66 days, Heather Hodges disappearance was considered a "missing persons case." Flyers were hung all over town. Her picture was posted online. There were numerous searches and news conferences, but as investigators stepped back in front of the media, they are now dealing with a criminal investigation.
"We've been working this as a major crime since day one, to make sure we didn't miss anything," said Lt. Todd Maxey, the lead investigator for this case.
Lt. Todd Maxey said they now have forensic evidence and a person of interest. While investigators would not release any specific details, they say the evidence shows the young mother's disappearance was related to a violent act.
As for the person of interest, Sheriff Bill Overton said that person was cooperative in the beginning, but as investigators dug deeper in the case, that changed.
"Initially we found individuals that were cooperative, then recently we've had interviews where people have not been cooperative and that does bring concern to us," said Sheriff Overton.
Sheriff Overton and Lt. Maxey said they are more optimistic than before, but they still do not know if Hodges is alive or dead.
"We are still hoping to bring Heather home to her family, but with no sighting of her in two months the outlook is starting to get grim," said Maxey.
For now detectives will continue to focus on the investigation and evidence in the case. Hodges' sister tells us the family is still heart broken. She again sent out a plea, if anyone knows where her sister may be, to please come forward.
From Erin Barnett, WSLS Reporter in the field
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has changed the case into a criminal investigation.
Deputies say forensic evidence leads them to believe Hodges' disappearance was preceded by a "violent act." Investigators do not know whether she is alive or dead.
The sheriff's office has a person of interest, but would not give any details about that person.
Investigators said from day one there have been a lot of "suspicious circumstances" in the case, and they had been treating it like a criminal investigation as a precaution, prior to today's announcement.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office tells us they will release new information about the Heather Hodges missing person case.
Hodges, 22, of Rocky Mount, went missing in early April. Since then, investigators have conducted numerous searches for Hodges.
We spoke with Hodges' family in May. Her sister Crystal Hodges told us it was unlike Heather to just disappear and not have any contact with her family.
The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m.