NORTH AUGUSTA --- We love you. We miss you.
They're words that Lorraine Mabrey and her granddaughter Krystina Shuttleworth have written a number of times each year to their missing daughter and mother, Lisa Shuttleworth.
On Saturday, seven years to the day since Lisa Shuttleworth disappeared, they released their words again, tied to balloons, over River Watch Parkway.
"It's my way of releasing my love to her," Krystina said.
The family still remembers how Shuttleworth's Beech Island home looked in 2003, left as if she would come back. A boiling pot of tea was on the stove with a paper towel on top of the pot's rim. The doors were locked and her blue-green Pontiac Grand Am was in the driveway. Only she and her purse were gone.
The divorced mother of two talked by phone to Krystina, then 14, about 7:15 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2003, saying she would pick her up that afternoon. She was also scheduled to meet her son Ryan, then 9, at the bus stop.
But she never showed.
"You wonder where she is and if anyone knows anything," Mabrey said. "You never lose hope."
Mabrey and her husband, Jerry, a retired Army recruiter, still believe she was taken against her will. There's been no movement in the case in the past four years.
"We have a good idea who may have taken her," Jerry Mabrey said. "We don't have proof, but nobody's talking about it and we're just begging for that person to come forward."
Unlike cases involving missing and abducted children, which now include immediate Amber Alerts, missing adult cases are often difficult to solve because people can vanish for financial or criminal reasons, or they just want to take a break and don't tell anyone, according to the National Center for Missing Adults.
Each year, 90 percent of the more than 1 million entries made into the center's database and that of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children result in the person being found alive. About 100,000 Americans are missing at any given time, according to the center.
In 2009, 719,558 missing person cases were filed, and 716,130 were cleared. The number of missing persons last year also dropped 7.5 percent from 2008.
Forty Georgians and 31 South Carolinians, including Shuttleworth, are listed as missing adults, according to the center.
Today, her family is just waiting for one missing piece of evidence or a testimony to get Aiken County's sole missing person case solved. With no signs of a struggle, her family believes she went with someone she knew and was then abducted.
Krystina said it's possible that her mom could have left, but deep down she's ready for closure, even if that means finding her mother's body.
"We wonder did she suffer? What happened? I just feel -- I'm just in pause," she said. "It's not possible to move on."
Immediately after the disappearance, the Mabreys took custody of their grandchildren.
For all the somber moments that Sept. 4 and missed holidays bring, Lorraine Mabrey said their home is really filled with laughter and love, and it's brought their family closer than before.
"Now I don't know what would happen if they leave me," she said with a timid laugh. "I think I need them around just as much as they need us."
"I love you" and "thank you" isn't taken lightly and is often followed with a lingering hug from Krystina, just in case her grandparents didn't already know.
As the family waits for answers, Lorraine Mabrey said her faith has become her comfort and she still believes God's in the business of miracles.
"I'm always reminded of, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' " she said. "And he hasn't. Sometimes you just go through the motions, but she's on our mind every day."
Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111 or firstname.lastname@example.org