What Happened to Courtney Roland, the Texas Sports Reporter Who Vanished After Texting a Friend She Was Followed?
After texting that a truck was following her, she vanished, leading to speculation she'd been kidnapped. Found unharmed, police say medication may have been the culprit.
Family, friends, and even the governor of Texas began to panic Sunday when college-sports reporter Courtney Roland went missing.
The 29-year-old was found unharmed under a highway overpass on Monday morning without her car, cellphone, or purse—more than 24 hours after texting a friend that she was being followed home by a man in a blue truck. While questions remain about what happened to her, the Texan’s family is just happy she’s alive.
In a Monday press conference, Houston police said Roland was confused because of a reaction to medications she was taking. She did not know police were searching for her, they said. Police did not expand on Roland’s medical episode but said she has ongoing confusion and memory problems Monday afternoon. Officials do not know where she spent Sunday evening.
Roland went to work on Saturday afternoon, covered a Team Texas Elite football tryout, and then left in an Uber at about 4 p.m.
Hours later, around 12:30 a.m., Roland reportedly texted a friend to say she was being followed by a blue truck after leaving a Walgreens.
Then, she disappeared.
Police began to release information about the case early Monday, after a social-media campaign, #HelpFindCourtney, was started over the weekend. It was circulated by football players, fellow reporters, and state officials in Texas, including Gov. Greg Abbott.
Early Monday, her white Jeep Cherokee was found by officers in a parking lot, and her phone and other items were inside the vehicle. Her purse was found at a nearby business, police said.
A witness told police they saw Roland walking in the mall alone about 5:40 p.m. on Sunday afternoon after she was reported missing. It’s not clear what happened between that sighting and about 8:15 a.m. Monday morning, when she was found under a highway overpass unharmed, without her belongings.
Police say a passerby saw the news coverage and recognized her.
“Our officers have found Ms. Roland in the Galleria area. She appears unharmed. She’ll be taken to an area hospital for an evaluation,” Houston Police said on Twitter on Monday. “We are not providing the location where she was found or hospital at this time.”
Her father, Steve Roland, told the Houston Chronicle on Monday morning: “We don’t have too many details right now; we’re just happy she’s OK.”
Roland covers Texas A&M football for sports site AggieYell.com and Rivals.com.
“She’s got a country ringtone,” said Ben Baby, who covers college football for The Dallas Morning News. “That’s how you know she’s a real Texan.”
Baby told The Daily Beast on Monday that he’s known Roland for about two years and that she is “a real down-to-earth person.”
“She comes in, does her job, gets what she needs,” he said.
Baby said later Monday morning that the past few days were “a really terrifying situation” for everyone waiting to hear if Roland was alive.
“It’s probably one of the more helpless feelings there is,” said Baby. “I think we’re all just relieved to wake up this morning and find out she’s OK.”
Baby described Roland as knowledgeable, friendly, and “good at what she does.”
“She can hold a conversation with anybody,” he added. “You can tell because so many people reached out to find out happened to her.”
Roland’s colleague Mark Passwaters tweeted on Monday: “As you can tell by the outpouring of tweets, #CourtneyRoland is much loved on the Aggie beat. She’s like my little sister, and it’s hard to expressed how excited I am that she’s been found.”
Passwaters said Roland’s parents “are so incredibly thankful for all the love, support, and help received over the past day.”
Travis Brown, who covers the Aggies for the Brian-College Station Eagle, echoed that sentiment Monday morning, noting that when he first moved to the area two years ago Roland was a “unifying force” on the beat and helped him make friends.
“She’s easily one of the nicest people you’ll meet,” he said. “When you see such an instant reaction—and people wanting to help. It’s telling of the kind of character and person she is. “
Brown said he was—like everyone else—rattled by the news that Roland was missing.
“You don’t want that kind of thing to happen to anyone but especially not that kind of nice, friendly person in a competitive industry,” he said.