LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Robert Gene Weems was last seen walking from his residence on Julian Street in the Florence area on June 5, 1997.
Nearly a dozen tips flooded the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office after Weems went missing. However, the leads went cold. Investigators haven't given up hope, though, that one day they'll learn what happened to Weems or even find him alive.
Investigator Richard Richey has been working on the case since the beginning. He still has a 'missing' poster of Weems hanging in his office.
"I'll never forget it," said Richey. "I'll always wonder what happened to him."
Richey said he's still waiting for the one tip that could bring closure to the case.
"If he's not deceased, then he's out there somewhere," said Richey.
According to Richey, Weems walked away from his home in the Petersville area where he lived with his father. Detectives say the 30-year-old man suffered from manic depression, but didn't have his medications, an ID, or even his glasses when he left.
"How can you just vanish like that and nobody ever hear a trace or see a trace from you?" Richey asks.
For years, Richey says Weems' family stayed in contact with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office. Weems' father is the one who filed the missing person's report 16 years ago.
"He never wanted to give up hope and rightfully so, none of us would want to do that," Richey said. "It's just sad he died a few years ago never knowing what happened to his son."
Richey says if new information does surface, he's dedicated to rekindling the investigation and tracking down every lead.
Richey added that throughout the years, several law enforcement agencies contacted him when they had unidentified remains. Every time, Richey sent off Weems' dental records, but no matches were ever made.
If you have any information about the Robert Weems case, please call the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office at (256) 760-5870.