Local News

Story published: 12-01-2010 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Search continues for John South, missing since 1998


By Jonathan Pleasant

The holiday season is often seen as a source of joy and hope for many people around the country, spent with family and friends in celebration. However, for the family of John South, Jr. this time of year brings with it a sense of loss and the frustration of not knowing what happened to this man, who disappeared mysteriously 12 years ago.

Pam Brabson and Angie Sykes, John South’s daughters, have not given up hope of discovering the truth and are hoping that new information may come to light. The girls first realized their father was missing after coming to his house in Laurel Bloomery, only to find it apparently vacant. With his car gone and nothing out of place in the house, it might have seemed that South had simply went out. However, the night prior Brabson and Sykes had arranged to come to their father’s home to help him set up his Christmas tree. According to Brabson it would have been very unlike South to leave without some notice when he expected guests. “Dad loved company and was always home when he expected someone to come by.”

After calling South’s sister, who also didn’t have any information on his whereabouts, the girls waited. On the third or fourth day they

went to the authorities, but according to them, were met with very little assistance. Richard Knowles was the Johnson County investigator at the time, and when the girls went to him they say they were told that their father “was a grown man and would go where he wanted to.”

Ultimately it was several months before South’s sister finally went to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), which then sent out the investigator to talk to neighbors and begin the process of opening the case. No solid evidence turned up and eventually the months turned into years, but South’s family has never given up.

Finally, when Joe Woodard became the new county investigator the search was renewed, but unfortunately had to begin from scratch. According to Brabson, officials at the sheriff’s department informed the family that South’s case had been lost during the move to the newly built county jail. Yet this did not deter Woodard who began a new file that eventually led to several leads and another round of investigation.

Now, as the twelfth year passes since they last heard from their father, South’s daughters are asking the community for any information

that could lead to answers. “We’ve not forgot about it and we really hope someone will come forward with something.” The family has begun posting a new round of flyers, this time with the TBI phone number.

Anyone with information that may help in uncovering the mystery behind South’s disappearance can call TBI at 423-TBI-FIND and anonymous calls are welcomed.

In cases such as this, which have gone cold, often a single call may lead to new information that could solve the mystery or at the very least provide closure for the distraught family. During a season known for kindness and miracles, those who know and love John South, Jr. are certainly hoping that this may be the year that their prayers are answered.