When Sally Rumsey went missing in a snowstorm on February 5, 2010, her husband Steve Anderson waited two days to notify authorities. Some 48 hours later, Rumsey was found dead from exposure, in this case freezing to death, only 40 yards from the home she shared with Anderson.
Text messages between family members show Anderson was disinclined to actively search for Rumsey and was cornered into phoning 911 to report her as missing only after his step-daughter Sarah Thrift told him she was going to make the call.
By the time she was found, Rumsey was frozen so solid that Virginia State Medical Examiner Kevin Whaley claimed Rumsey had to be thawed out and ice chipped off her indicating she had perished not long after she left the home.
The crime scene photos of Rumsey clearly show several inches of snow had fallen and remained on her body, but a meteorologist testified only an inch or so of snow had fallen when Rumsey left the home.
Despite an array of evidence of potential foul play and odd explanations from Anderson, no criminal charges were filed by then Commonwealth Attorney Dean Atkins. The findings of the Virginia Medical Examiner’s office which declared Rumsey’s death a suicide may have presented an obstacle to justice and stalled further investigation.
Thrift was not satisfied with the coroner’s findings or her step-father’s conflicting and seemingly strange explanations of why and how her mother left the home or why Anderson lied to family members of the circumstances, so she filed a suit with the civil court to achieve justice for her mother and deny Anderson from profiting from her death.