LUMBERTON — The search for a missing 20-year-old Lumberton woman moved to the Alamac Road area of Robeson County earlier this week, according to an FBI spokesperson, but Abby Patterson remains missing.
“The FBI and Lumberton Police Department conducted a search Monday as part of the ongoing investigation to locate Abby Lynn Patterson,” Shelley Lynch said Wednesday. “We continue to assist LPD with this case.”
Patterson was last seen on Sept. 5, 2017, getting into a brown Buick in the area of East Ninth Street in Lumberton, Capt. Terry Parker, of the Lumberton Police Department, said in the days after Patterson went missing.
“We’ve done a number of searches and continue to follow leads. An agent spoke with Abby’s mother after the search,” Lynch said. “We encourage the public to come forward with information to help locate Abby.”
Bernice Locklear, who’s lived at Alamac Road and Flamingo Drive for nearly 20 years, said he saw a lot of police activity behind his home this past month.
“All I seen were the laws out there two days ago. I didn’t ask them anything,” Locklear said. “There was a mixture of unmarked cars and marked ones. Fayetteville was out there. They were back in the woods over there.”
Locklear walked with a reporter from The Robesonian about a quarter of a mile past a light gray house with a pond in front of it and down a curved path to another pond that appeared to have been drained.
“Yep, it’s (the house) been vacant for at least two years. Me and my wife used to take walks back here,” Locklear said. “I would say that pond is about 50 feet long and 30 feet wide. Probably, maybe 10 to 12 foot deep. Looks like they drained it.”
Debris, including an old car door and a shredded couch cushion, littered the edge of the pond.
About a month ago, lawmen on inflatable boats were seen dragging the pond in front of the abandoned house on Flamingo Drive, he said.
“They were over at that house about four weeks ago, about a dozen cars and double the people,” Locklear said. “They had boats on that pond. They were scraping the bottom. They had two dogs out there sniffing.”
He wasn’t aware of Patterson’s disappearance until Wednesday when he was shown media posts about the recent searches, Locklear said. A photo posted online had his house in the image.
“I been asking neighbors, you know, about why they (lawmen) keep coming, but don’t nobody tell me nothing. This morning when I was at the bank the tellers asked me about it since, I guess, you know, I live on Alamac.
“I saw my house. I didn’t know anything about it, I didn’t know why. When I see them out there I just watch.”
The mother of Abby Patterson is pleading with the public to stop posting rumors on social media. Reading them is deeply distressing for her family.
“I try not to pay attention to social media. There are a lot of rumors that just aren’t true,” Samantha Lovette said Wednesday. “I would like for people to be mindful of what they post. Not only about Abby, but about any missing people. Think of the families’ feelings.”
When rumors or unsubstantiated information is posted online it causes trauma, she said.
“It sets me back every time. I couldn’t sleep all night. I have trouble sleeping. I am not eating. She has sisters, too. They’re on social media and they see that,” Lovette said. “I have to call everyone and tell them it’s not true. It’s seems to be every week now. It’s a big deal. Just think about the families and their loved ones.”
The FBI is continuing to pursue tips.
“I don’t ask a lot of questions. I don’t want to know a lot of details. They drilled in me that when they find her, I will be the first to know. They haven’t found her,” Lovette said. “They are on Abby’s case, they are not giving up. They have promised me that they will not give up. I trust them.
“All I want is, for anyone who knows anything. Doesn’t matter if it seems small, it could end up being big, report it. You never know.”
She struggles day-to-day not knowing where her daughter is and when she will be found, Lovette said. Clinging to hope is how she copes with not knowing where Abby is.
“I am thankful to the FBI and Lumberton detectives working on Abby’s case and not giving up,” she said. “We pray for her safe return.”
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Patterson is asked to call the FBI at 704-672-6100 or the Lumberton Police Department at 910-671-3845. There is a $10,000 for information that leads to Patterson being found.
Reach Annick Joseph by calling 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]