Unanswered questions linger as investigators continue searching for Christopher Chad Wiles, a Humphreys County man who went missing nearly 18 months ago.
February 7, 2019, started out as a good day for Wiles. He purchased a 1998 Buick and spent the afternoon showing off his new ride to friends around town.
While driving home that night, things took a turn. Wiles’s car broke down in the middle of a storm and he used a nearby neighbor’s phone to call his girlfriend, Michelle McGee.
“She stated that Thursday night, that he had called her around eight o’clock and said he had car trouble and that he needed a ride,” Humphreys County Sheriff’s Captain Clay Anderson said. “She said she was unable to go pick him up because she drank some wine when she had dinner that night and didn’t feel like she could drive safely.”
Wiles thanked the neighbor for letting him use the phone and began walking back toward his broken down car in the pouring rain. He hasn’t been seen since.
His girlfriend drove around the next day searching for Wiles. After her search came up empty, she filed a missing persons report the following day, February 9.
Weather complicated the search as law enforcement began looking for Wiles.
“[It] was February, it was cold. It was one of the last big rainstorms, flooding, that we had in the area. The rivers, the creeks were up,” Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said. “We were experiencing some road closures, just a lot of things in our area.”
Once the rain finally stopped and floodwaters subsided, investigators were convinced they’d find Wiles with the ground finally clear. They combed the area through the air, on foot, and on horseback. Still, no signs of Wiles.
“That became very alarming,” Anderson said. “It brought a lot of red flags up that we can’t find the deceased…I told the sheriff and we started talking about it, this is looking more like a homicide and we don’t have the body.”
Gail Johnson, Wiles’s mother, began losing hope. She said her intuition told her Wiles is no longer alive. “I think harm has come to him…I do not think he’s on an island somewhere, I don’t think he’s being held captive. I believe in my heart he is gone, he would never be on this earth for this amount of time and not called his mom.”
Sheriff Davis said he’s convinced somebody knows what happened to Wiles and has the information it will take to solve the case.
Wiles’s girlfriend, Michelle McGee, is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to Wiles’s remains.
“You always have this worry so while the person that might have been responsible for him missing, it’s the people that have these little knowledges and don’t go to the police with it and that have continued this…It will be two years in February. So it’s very important if anybody knows anything, that they tell the police about it,” Michelle said.
The case has several discrepancies investigators are calling red flags.
“He had called and said he had a flat tire, which police say is not true, there was no flat in any of the tires,” Michelle said. “But we had bought it with three-quarters tank of gas that day, so it was a new car.”
Captain Anderson said there were no flat tires on the car and the vehicle was low on fuel. “It did have some in it when we took the tank off, but probably not enough that the fuel pump would actually pick it up. It would basically be empty as far as driving purposes.”
Sheriff Davis said it’s unlikely Chad wouldn’t know his way home in a town he knew like the back of his hand. “We feel that he would have tried to get back to a familiar area, to get out of the weather, to get out of what was going on, and here again there’s another red flag and that’s things that we’re considering.”
Wiles had a history of using drugs, but had been turning his life around over the last year. He held a steady job and was working through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The sheriff’s office doesn’t want anyone to fear coming forward, even if it is through a drug connection they know Chad.
His girlfriend said people have come to her with tips. “I have people that will tell me things, but they won’t go to the police and that’s just so sad because they need the public’s help and we need the public’s help.”
Michelle said she’d rather people go to the police themselves instead of her telling police through second-hand knowledge. “There’s just people that don’t like to get involved, and that’s very sad.”
Johnson begs anyone with information about her son to come forward.
“Any little detail would be so helpful. It’s just not knowing is the absolute worst. There are no words to describe the excruciating pain of wondering and leaving it up to your own imagination what could have happened…You can’t heal from something [when] you don’t know what happened.”
Each night, Johnson visits what she calls her ‘Chad Garden’. It’s a shrine she’s made in his memory with flowers and stones. “That’s all I have. I don’t have a grave or ashes or anything like that. For now, that’s all I have. When they’re gone, they’re gone, but I would like a final resting place and to be able to be near and visit and have all the answers.”
Anyone with information can call the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office at (931) 296-2301 or send an email to email@example.com.
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