http://www.news4jax.com/news/15266322/detail.htmlRally Marks Year 3 Since 2 Boys Disappeared
Families Remain Hopeful
POSTED: 7:23 pm EST February 10, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The nightmare for two Jacksonville families continued Sunday, exactly three years after their boys disappeared after walking off the campus of a local middle school.
Mark Degner and Bryan Hayes vanished on Feb. 10, 2005. The boys were 12 and 13 years old when they went missing.
On Sunday, family and friends gathered near Paxon Middle School to honor the missing boys and to keep their images in the public eye.
"It's been three years since they walked from Paxon Middle School, and they haven't been seen since. Having a missing loved one has been the most trying time and difficult time that our family has ever faced. It has been our faith in God that has sustained us and brought us peace, encouragement and hope," said a family member.
The families said they hope Sunday's event keeps the memories of their loved ones alive, and they hoped someone would remember something they saw three years ago and come forward with that information.
"We know that God is in control and that he sees the bigger picture. That doesn't mean that we stop doing everything in our power to bring our family members home, but it means that we move forward trusting God with the outcome," one family member said.
Progression pictures of what Degner and Hayes may look like three years after they disappeared were also shown at Sunday's rally.
"As of today, through technology we're looking at age-progression picture. We're asking anyone through media, if you happen to see someone who happens to resemble and looks like these boys, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office," said Ann Dugger, of the Justice Coalition.
The boys' families said they would not stop searching until their boys came home. They were not alone.
As the rally for Degner and Hayes grew, so did the number of families in attendance holding out hope that their own loved ones would find their ways back home.
One by one, family members of missing persons took the microphone and told their stories: "My name is Vikki Smith and my son, Joshua, disappeared in 2000."
"My name is Mattie Johnson and my daughter, Sheena, disappeared Sept. 8, 2006."
"Hi, I'm Anita Sullivan. My brother is Austin Davis, who has been missing since June 26 of last year."
"My name is Margaret Rowan. I'm mother of John Rowan, missing since Feb. 21 2001."
Although each story was different, heartbreak was something all of the families shared.
"She left home and told me, 'Mom, I'm going. I'll be back.' The last we heard from her she went to the store she walked out the store and she hasn't been seen or heard from since," Johnson said.
Rowan's family came to Sunday's rally wearing pins to remember her son, who she said was a hardworking Irish immigrant who she believes was murdered.
"I want answers and I need answers now. I can't go on any longer. I need people here in Jacksonville to support me. I need answers. Somebody did something wrong to my son that morning, and I really need to find him," Rowan said.
Anyone with information about any missing person can call Crimestoppers at 866-845-TIPS to give authorities tips. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.