It’s been more than three months since Christopher Hooks went missing in South Arkansas and his family is looking for answers.
“I just want him home so bad. Every hour, every day gets worse. But I want him home to be with us,” says Betty Hooks, Chris’ mother.
Chris was last seen on Sunday, January 22nd, by his wife, Julie. They had plans to meet up at the family camp. When Chris didn’t show, Julie wasn’t concerned.
“I went back to the camp, but the camp was locked and the dog was gone, so I just thought maybe I missed him,” says Julie.
She went back home to wait for him, but he never showed up.
Julie says the disappearance of her husband is, “horrible, just heartache, not knowing, not knowing if he’s alive, or what happened. Just no answers and not much help anywhere.”
Julie and Chris’ mother, Betty, reported Chris missing to the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon says the search began with stops in nearby towns.
“We made contacts with people in Strong and Huttig, thinking he may be across the river.”
Sheriff Sturgeon says one person reported seeing Chris at a drug store days before he was reported missing.
The investigation was continuing, until the department realized one key issue.
“Technically, he’s not missing from Ashley County, he’s missing from Calhoun County, but that was not reported to us on the front side,” says Sheriff Sturgeon.
The family camp is in Calhoun County and is under the jurisdiction of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department.
“We sent two officers to fly the area to try to locate Mr. Hooks or something that would make us go to Calhoun County and look for evidence that he was there,” says Sheriff Sturgeon.
A possible break in the case was on the way; on February 19th, Chris’ truck was found stuck in the woods near the family camp.
It was locked and all of his belongings – a new cell phone, medication, money and identification cards – were left inside.
Betty says this was hard for her. “I was alright until we found the truck. But when we found the truck and all his belongings, that’s just not like him.”
The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department worked the scene, releasing the vehicle to family members.
Chris’ sister, Janet Lansdale, says she feels investigators dropped the ball.
“They had all touched it, then they let us all go in and touch it. And then when the state came in to pick it up, it had all been touched… I wish I would have thought and said, ‘no’, but I didn’t know. But I feel like that messed up a lot of the evidence with the truck.”
We reached out to Calhoun County Sheriff Bob Dunn to ask about his department’s investigation into Chris’ dissappearance.
Several phone calls and messages went unreturned.
“We just want some answers, and I don’t know how to go about doing it-to get the answers, we’ve contacted the police, but I don’t know,” says Betty.
Sheriff Sturgeon says they have exhausted all avenues searching for Chris.
“All we can do is keep doing what we’ve been doing, we can keep walking, keep dragging, keep getting dogs over, that’s all we can do until someone spots him or there’s some evidence around that leads us in another direction, this is all we’ve got.”
Chris’ dissappearance is taking a toll on his loved ones.
“If he’s out there, I wish he would call, you know…” says Janet.
Betty says Chris’ disappearance is hardest to handle when the weather turns bad.
“At days, it’s real hard… at night, when it’s thundering and lightning, I just nearly have a fit… We sit on the porch a lot looking for him, thinking he’ll drive up or drive by.”
Chris’ father, Dean Hooks, had a heart attack on February 3rd and has been sick since.
Betty believes finding Chris is the key to healing Dean.
“I believe if he knew Chris was alright, he’d get better.”
For now, all Chris’ family can do, is wait.
“Our lives are not the same without him, it’s just a peice of our heart that’s gone… I love him and I want him home. I don’t care what’s happened, I want him home because I love him and we miss him so much.”
The case has been turned over to the Arkansas State Police. They say the investigation is ongoing.