It's been nearly two years now since Bobby Smelcer went missing from his Shelbyville home. It came just months before local teacher Shelley Jones Mook's car was found burning in a remote area of Rutherford County at the end of February 2011.
The families of the two came together after the T-G published a series profiling the Shelbyville Missing, and joined their efforts to a third family, that of Antonio Taylor, who has been missing since 1999.
The families have fought to keep those three names in the public eye, placing posters throughout the city, holding prayer vigils and keeping contact with local and state law enforcement agencies.
They never give up. They cannot.
Since then, a skull was discovered in an area near Stewart Road known as Wolf Meadows on April 16, which state forensic experts later identified as belonging to Smelcer. Law enforcement and search and rescue teams scoured the riverbed, but no additional remains were located.
The family who had prayed many months for an answer regarding Bobby Smelcer's whereabouts found themselves facing an odd paradigm: It wasn't enough. Although they held a memorial service for him later in the summer, they are still unable to bury him, place a headstone, know just what happened to Bobby in those days leading up to Thanksgiving.
Unintentionally, they have become experts now on issues relating to the national phenomena of missing persons, gaining strength and education from those who are also on this journey. The world wide web allows them these connections, and some have become immersed in these groups -- now supporting other families of the missing.
Earlier this year, Kristy Smelcer, one of Bobby's sisters, was named as the Tennessee Coordinator for the Missing with the CUE Foundation. The national foundation for missing persons is based in Wilmington, N. C.
With the support of that organization, a march has been organized for Saturday morning in Shelbyville, hosted by Michelle Crosslin of the Caleb Tristen Foundation.
"I hear from so many people every day who have a family member missing," said Kristy. "They don't know where to turn or what to do."
According to Kristy, 70 percent of those found are aided by community awareness and media coverage.
The march hopes to accomplish just that, keeping the memories of the Shelbyville Missing alive, calling attention to the case of Chloie Leverette and Gage Daniel's disappearance as well.
The siblings were in the household of Leon and Molly McClaran, whose Kingdom Road home in Unionville burned to the ground on Sept. 23. In spite of several days of searches, their remains have not been located, and they are officially considered as missing children.
The group plans to have several volunteer search and rescue teams on hand "to help these families get searches together," said Kristy.
The group will meet at the courthouse on the Shelbyville square at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for a prayer before heading to Shelbyville Central High School. The march will begin from there at 10 a.m., passing by Harris Middle School where Mook was a teacher, by Smelcer's home on East Lane Street, and Lane Parkway, where Taylor was reportedly dropped off by a friend before his disappearance.
Tables will be set up at the high school to showcase each of the missing persons from the area.
"Please show your support to these families," is Kristy's appeal. "We need you there to help these families."
Rewards for information concerning the disappearances of Smelcer and Taylor are $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.
Contact the Shelbyville Police Department at 684-5811 or anonymously at Crimestoppers at 685-4300.
The reward for information concerning the disappearance of Shelley Jones Mook is $20,000. Contact the Bedford County Sheriff's Department at 684-3232 or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
For more information, contact Kristy Smelcer at (931) 434-5196.
A $1,500 reward for information concering the disappearance of Leverette and Daniel was announced Wednesday, Contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND..
To review the T-G coverage of the missing, visit www.t-g.com/topic/missing