LUMBERTON — One thing that was not missing on Saturday were people who still have hope for their loved ones who have disappeared.
About 50 people turned out on a crisp fall day as the 2017 “On the Road to Remember Tour” made one of its last stops at the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office to remember and shed light on local missing persons in the community.
Harley Chavis, whose nephew Delwin Locklear went missing in 2006, helped organize the event. He has joined representatives of the CUE Center for Missing Persons, which sponsored the event, often for searches.
“I know this is hard looking at some of these people out here,” Chavis said as he looked around at all who attended. “That’s the reason I got involved.”
Family and friends of missing people gathered in the office’s parking lot and released balloons in remembrance of their loved ones during the vigil, which was held on the last day of National Missing Person’s Week.
Pamela Hammonds came out to bring attention to her husband Billy Gene Hammonds, who has been missing for a year.
“They don’t really have events like this often so I try to be involved,” said a niece of Billy.
Billy Gene, who is 36 years old, is described as 6 feet 2 inches tall, 175 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes, and multiple tattoos.
Pamela will be holding a missing person event on Nov. 27 at the Allenton Grocery on N.C. 211 in Lumberton. She recently held a similar event at the same venue.
During the vigil, attendees wrote a message of encouragement on a banner that displayed 92 missing people. The banner will be given to the family of a missing person.
“We are constantly searching. These 92 cases are just a grain of salt compared to all of the missing people out there,” said Monica Caison, who established the CUE Center about 13 years ago.
Caison was exposed to the families of missing persons at least three times before she was 25, including a college student named Leah Roberts who had gone missing in 2000. Caison made it her mission to get the word out, traveling to various states and working the media.
Relatives of Abby Patterson, a 20-year-old Lumberton woman who went missing in September, were among the crowd. There is a $10,000 reward offered for information that will bring her back, $5,000 offered by the family and $5,000 offered by Mountaire Farms
Patterson is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. She has light skin, with a birthmark on the back of her left thigh and a bird tattoo on her shoulder.
The family of Ricky Bethea came from Laurinburg.
“We miss him. Someone knows something somewhere,” Wanda Bethea, Ricky’s sister, said.
Lumberton Councilman Chris Howard came out with the family of Eric Evans, of South Lumberton, who went missing seven months ago.
“It’s puzzling and has a complex reality on the community. They really don’t know where to turn,” Howard said.
Anyone with information on a missing person from Robeson County should contact the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at 910-671-3100 or visit the CUE Center for Missing Persons website.
Reach Tomeka Sinclair at 910-416-5865