East Tennessee man's trail goes cold after 2005 disappearance

East Tennessee man's trail goes cold after 2005 disappearance

Ray Newman (source: family) Ray Newman (source: family)

6 News Reporter

CLARKRANGE (WATE) - A man disappeared from his Fentress County home in January 2005. Sheriff's detectives say although they don't have any clues about what happened to him, his past practice of trading pills in other counties may help provide answers.

They believe the people who might have answers about Ray Newman, 48, live in Sevier, Blount and Grainger counties.

Newman lived in those counties until just before he disappeared in Fentress County.

Due to the distance, it's been tough for deputies to locate people who knew Newman.

Detective Ron Whited was assigned to the case and says there's a pretty good chance Newman is not alive. He also says to a large degree the distance has slowed the investigation.

No one misses Newman more than his elderly parents. They say Ray moved to Fentress County about a year before he disappeared almost exclusively to help take care of them.

"We could always call him and tell him what we needed and he would be right there. He was not one to leave. I don't think he would have just left. He cared too much for us. In fact, that's the reason he moved closer to Mom and Dad. It was to help us," said his mother, Dorothy Newman.

Investigators say Newman disappeared with just the clothes he was wearing that January day. That also makes them think his disappearance is fishy.

"It appears that he is possibly dead. There has been no contact with him and no one has reported any sightings of him," Detective Whited said.

Newman's mother and father were the last ones to see him when he stopped by their house. They say he had two daughters he was also close to and he had recently separated from his wife.

But investigators say there was another part to Newsman's history. He was a small-time drug dealer in the past.

Detective Whited believes that could have something to do with what happened to him. "Previous to 2004, he was known to have been possibly trading some pills, may have been growing marijuana in Pigeon Forge," he said.

Newman lived in places like Pigeon Forge, Alcoa, and Thorn Hill for most of his life, which also hurts Fentress County detectives. They say that's where the people live who knew him and could possibly clue them in about what happened.

"Getting other counties involved would probably help us in figuring out who he is associated with, people he may have angered in some of the other places he lived," Detective Whited said.

For Ray's parents, who have already lost a daughter to breast cancer and a son to a brain tumor, not knowing what happened is agonizing.

"I did not know if I would live through it or not. It was so hard. Sometimes I would just lie in bed and cry," his mother said.

They say they'll never give up hope for an answer.

"I would like someone to give us some kind of closure. If anyone knows what might have happened, we'd love any information given to us," his mother said.

Detectives believe there are people in Sevier, Blount and Grainger counties who may recognize Ray Newman and know something that could help them.

If you have information about this case, call the Fentress County Sheriff's Office at 931-879-8142.

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