Scores of volunteers and employees with emergency agencies in Greene County searched the thick woods around the home where the 76-year-old Lawson lived with his daughter, Becky Smith, and her family. Lawson disappeared about noon on June 6, when he walked away from the home, where he had been sitting in the front yard.
“All the resources that were out there — the people on foot, ATVs and dogs. You would think there would be something. He carried a pack of Red Man chewing tobacco and always had a pen in his pocket and nothing was found,” Smith said. “I can’t make sense of anything. That’s why it scares me that maybe there was a car involved.”
That is one of two possibilities in Lawson’s disappearance that law enforcement authorities have investigated. Either he walked off into the forest and now can’t be found or someone picked him up as he walked along Union Point Highway a few miles west of Union Point, according to Greene County Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Thurmond.
“But there’s no evidence of anybody picking him up,” Thurmond said.
In fact there’s no evidence of anything, except that one neighbor told authorities she thought she saw Lawson walk into the woods across from his home, where a CSX railroad track is located. CSX sent a vehicle to the area which went up and down the line without finding anything, family members said.
“As we get leads, we’ve looked into it, but nothing has panned out,” Thurmond said.
Lawson was missing for about an hour before authorities were called as family members tried to conduct their own search. Lawson had wandered off before, but was always located, according to reports.
The search that ensued was massive, Thurmond said, and involved not only a ground search using dogs and people on horseback, but a helicopter.
Lawson moved to Greene County in 1980 from Knoxville, Tenn., to work at the Chipman-Union sock plant in Union Point, from which he eventually retired. Because of his Alzheimer’s, he had not driven a car in the past two years.
“People still stop by and ask if there has been anything (new) and if there is anything they can do,” Smith said. “My thing is to keep it out there, so it’s not forgotten. That’s what happens a lot of times. I hear it on the news that someone is missing, but you never hear if they were found or if they are continuing to search. It’s a heavy-heart situation.”