Katelin Michelle Akens was born on September 2, 1996, in Indiana, U.S.A. the first child of Lisa Sullivan and Jason Akens. Jason later abandoned the family when Katelin was a toddler, leaving Katelin and her younger sister, Gabrielle “Gabby” Akens, to be raised by their single mother. Lisa moved the girls to Caroline County, Virginia, a suburb south of Washington, D.C., where they grew up. When Katelin was 7 years old, Lisa married James Branton, but the marriage folded six years later when Katelin was 13. Katelin and her sister remained in contact with James Branton by continuing to celebrate birthdays and Christmases together. Lisa said James Branton was the only father figure Katelin had ever known.
At some point a girl named Amber Rios moved down the street from Katelin. The two became fast friends. Katelin was devastated when Amber and her family moved to Arizona, but the best friends remained in touch. Eventually, their long-distance friendship sparked into a romantic relationship.
Extremely smart and self-motivated, Katelin figured out she had enough credits to graduate high school early, so she graduated at age 16. Ten days after her 18th birthday, Katelin moved to Arizona to be with her now-fiancé, Amber. Katelin's family was sad to see her go, but they were supportive of her relationship with Amber and Katelin kept in constant daily contact with them.
Her First Nephew
When Katelin's younger sister, Gabby, gave birth to a baby boy, Katelin immediately booked a flight home to Virginia to meet her first nephew. She was excited to be an aunt and visit with her family. Her trip home could only last a few days though, as Katelin announced she enrolled in cosmetology school in Arizona, which started the following Monday. Katelin loved helping people and had always experimented with her hair, so her decision to be a hair stylist seemed like the perfect fit. She asked her family to help remind her not to forget her high school diploma, as she needed it to prove her eligibility for classes.
Katelin flew home to Virginia on December 1, 2015. She was scheduled to fly back to Arizona four days later, on December 5, 2015, but Katelin disappeared on the way to the airport.