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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Missing persons' families search for answers

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mook, Smelcer, Taylor
(Submitted photos)
Earlier this year, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette organized a meeting of families of Shelbyville's three missing persons. After a series of articles profiling the families, they were invited to a luncheon.

Central in their conversations was their shared need for closure -- to bring their loved ones home, to finally have the answers they've been seeking for so many days.

Those conversations have culminated in an event -- organized entirely by the families -- titled the Massive Search for the Shelbyville Missing. Volunteers are asked to arrive at Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center, 2119 Midland Road, as early as 7 a.m. Saturday.

"You know, the idea started at the dinner the newspaper had for our families," said Kristy Ray, a sister of Smelcer, who has been soliciting volunteer search and rescue organizations from area counties as well as handlers of cadaver and water search dogs. "With the frustration of not finding them, we all decided to do our own search. We need closure and we need the community to help us."

"We are wanting to search [areas that have been searched in the] past more effectively, explore new areas that we need to search and make sure areas the Taylor and Mook families want searched are thoroughly searched," said Karen Harris, another sister in Smelcer's large family.

Ground and water searches are planned, according to the families, who are working to secure permission to search from individual property owners.

Ground volunteers are needed and are advised to wear appropriate clothing like long pants, long sleeves and boots.

Coffee and doughnuts will be served to volunteers in the morning, water and snacks will be provided, and a volunteer luncheon will be served at noon.

Based on community response and that of members of Facebook pages devoted to the missing persons, group leaders say they are expecting hundreds of volunteers.

"We have talked about doing [a search] together and I am pleased that it is coming about with so much support," said Debra Sikora, the mother of missing Shelley Jones Mook. "The response from the community has been heartwarming."

"Hopefully, we will find our loved ones and bring them home," said Harris.

Antonio Taylor, 21, has been missing since November 1999.

Bobby Smelcer, 52, went missing Nov. 21, 2010.

Shelley Jones Mook, 24, was last seen Feb. 28, 2011.

More information

For more information, to volunteer or to donate food for the volunteers, contact Karen Harris, (931) 273-1801 or Kristy Ray, (931) 434-5196.