MARYVILLE (WATE) – Wednesday will mark three weeks since a Maryville teen disappeared. Hunter Barnes, 17, is a student at William Blount High School. He vanished on June 13. The family says his cell phone has been turned off since that day.
Thousands have helped with the search effort. Dale Barnes, Hunter's father, says the family doesn't know what happened to the boy. They don't know if he ran away, and they don't know if he got mixed up with the wrong people. He says what they do know is that it is highly out of character for the teen not be in touch with them regularly.
"I feel like we're so close, something had to happen to him, or something has scared him, for him not to talk to us," said Dale Barnes, on how his son regularly calls and texts them about his daily activities.
Barnes was last seen withdrawing money from his bank's ATM. Neither the teen, nor his car, a 2001 white, four-door Mazda Protege, have been spotted again.
The young man's cell phone has been switched off since that day, and very few of his belongings are missing.
"He's got a closet full of clothes. I can't see him leaving without all his clothes. If someone was going to leave, they'd take most of them. At least a suitcase I think," Barnes said.
The local community has gotten very involved in the search effort. Woody's BP, like several other local businesses have his missing poster hanging on their door.
"We're concerned about his safety. We're hearing mixed reviews from people coming in about what may have happened to him," said Bridgette McGhee, who works at the gas station.
A Facebook group dedicated to the search has more than 3,500 members. The family says they've heard a lot of rumor and speculation about what could have happened. One post from them, talks about rumors that Hunter feared a drug test, rumors they believe are false.
Whatever may have happened to Hunter, his dad hopes that somehow his son finds out they are desperately searching for him.
"Please contact us somehow, e-mail, text message, a letter, let us know you are alright. We are under the impression you are not alright. We need to know you're okay," said Barnes, about what he'd like to tell his son.
The Blount County Sheriff's Office is overseeing the case. They say it's an open investigation. But they have no reason to believe Hunter was in any danger.
There is a $2,000 reward being offered in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call BCSO at 865-277-5200.
Crews were called to 608 Equestrian Circle in the Blount County section of Seymour just after 3:00 a.m. Monday morning for what was originally a robbery call. Once officers arrived, they discovered an active meth lab.More >>
Five people are facing charges after an early morning meth lab bust in Seymour. Crews were called to 608 Equestrian Circle in the Blount County section of Seymour just after 3:00 a.m.More >>