Editor’s Note: When Christopher Burns approached me with the idea for Vanished: The Untold, Unsolved Case of Jessie Hoover, I was intrigued. The more than 30-year-old missing hiker case had so many unanswered — and perhaps unasked — questions. Moreover, Burns had already done a lot of legwork to find out what was known.

Over the course of the next few months, he impressed me again and again as he went after leads, chased down information and eventually pulled together a touching but sad story about Hoover and the family she left behind.

But there was a second story I wanted him to tell, too: The story of how he began with a name and unraveled the whole tale. Thanks for reading. — Sarah Walker Caron

At any given time, there are nearly 85,000 people reported missing in the United States, most of whom are found safe or turn up on their own within a couple days. But every so often some are never seen again. And some of their stories are never told.

One of those people was Jessie Albertine Hoover. In May 1983, Hoover came to Maine from her home in White Settlement, Texas, for the adventure of a lifetime — to hike the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail. But she never made it to the trail’s southern terminus in Georgia. Somewhere along that trail, Hoover disappeared.

In November 2014, I began a six-month investigation to piece together the story of this missing hiker. Her trail had long gone cold, but I was able to slowly track down many of the people involved in her story — an investigator from the Maine Warden Service and her family — as part of a Bangor Daily News digital journalism project called Vanished.

I first heard about Hoover a few years earlier after another hiker, Geraldine Largay of Tennessee, vanished in July 2013 while hiking on the Appalachian Trail in western Maine near Sugarloaf. When I started working on the Hoover story, Largay was the only other unsolved missing Appalachian Trail hiker case in Maine. Largay’s remains were located in October 2015, bringing to an end one of the most vexing missing person cases in Maine history.

When I looked into Hoover’s case, though, I discovered something unusual: Despite all the coverage of the Largay case, Hoover’s name came up only once in a 2013 column by Kennebec Journal columnist Maureen Milliken. There weren’t dozens of stories about the missing hiker and a search for her. Milliken wrote about the few scant details known about Hoover — her name, height, weight and that she had disappeared.

As Milliken wrote, “that’s all we know.”

A search of newspaper archives for coverage of her initial disappearance turned up nothing. In fact, Hoover’s name was never mentioned in news reports until 2009 when it appeared in a BDN report about Maine’s unsolved missing person cases, among which she is one of the oldest on file with the Maine State Police.

I was surprised given how much attention Largay’s disappearance had received. Young Donn Fendler also became the center of national news coverage in 1939, when he lost his way on Mount Katahdin. He was found, and he later wrote a book about the experience.

But Hoover was different. Unlike Largay and Fendler, there was little information available about her or her disappearance. When I spoke with officials at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maine Appalachian Trail Club and Baxter State Park, I found no one there was familiar with Hoover’s disappearance. Even among veteran Maine outdoorsmen, the only missing hiker anyone knew about was Largay.

In November 2014, I requested the Hoover disappearance case file from the state police investigative records division, and I received it on Nov. 20. From the original state police investigation report, I knew Hoover’s case had been referred to the Maine Warden Service, which leads searches for missing persons in the Maine woods. But the warden service had no records of a search for a missing Appalachian Trail hiker from 1983.

However the state police’s 1983 investigation report indicated that now-retired Warden Sgt. Dave Sewall had been informed of Hoover’s disappearance, so tracking him down seemed like the best next step. After a long back and forth with the warden service, I learned that not only was Sewall still around, but he remembered Hoover and had a file on the missing hiker among his papers.

Sewall told me he had never forgotten about Hoover’s case. The lack of resolution intrigued him, and he has always wondered about what happened to her. For three decades, he kept her file for the off chance that someday it could be helpful in solving her case.

That report provided two critical details: the where and the why. Before this, I knew Hoover was from Texas but not what city. Now I knew she was from White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth. Even more crucial, I learned her husband had died the November before she came to Maine, a likely answer to the why.

These details opened up the investigation for me. Knowing about when her husband died, I combed public records to see what I could turn up. Then I found what I was looking for: A death certificate from the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics for a Eugene Vernon Hoover, her husband.

What proved to be most important was that the record included a last known address. Unexpectedly, a search of property tax records indicated that the property was still in his name. Curious, I dug further and uncovered a phone associated with the address.

By then, I was four months into the investigation and had found a definitive link to Jessie Hoover’s family. When I dialed the number, on the other end, more than 2,000 miles away, was her daughter, Mary Yadon, who still lived in the home her parents had for many years.

Once I found Yadon and her eldest brother, Eugene Daniel Hoover, I had no doubt about why I had spent more than four months digging into Jessie Hoover’s story: For 32 years, her family had lived with the uncertainty of whether their mother was alive or dead.

Yadon and Eugene Daniel Hoover allowed me the opportunity over two months to get to know them and their mother’s story. It isn’t easy to share your greatest tragedy with a complete stranger, but they longed for answers to the same questions that drove me to dig and follow a 32-year-old trail of breadcrumbs.

A year later, however, those same questions still have no answers. After the report on Jessie Hoover was published last May, Yadon and her brother with the help of a nationwide network of volunteers submitted DNA samples to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Network, a national database against which law enforcement agencies coast to coast can run samples to look for matches. So far, no matches have been found.

Still, they were elated at the chance to have their mother’s story told and get her name out to the public. Moreover, Hoover is no longer unknown. People know who she was and what happened to her, and that while the rest of the world forgot about her, her family never did.

Even though her fate remains a mystery, at least we know who she is because no one should be forgotten.