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John South missing for 19 years; still no answers or closure for family

John South

By Paula Walter

December 18th marks 19 years since John South of Johnson County was last seen. He was in his early fifties and living in Laurel Bloomery at the time of his disappearance.
Daughters Pam Brabson and Angie Sykes had plans to visit their father and help put up his Christmas tree. When the sisters arrived, their father was not at home nor was his car. According to Brabson, it was out of character for their father to not be home when he was expecting family or company to show up as he enjoyed visitors. “He was nowhere to be found,” said Brabson. According to Brabson, she noticed the fire in South’s wood stove seemed to have been out for a long time. “He came home from work on Friday, and he went to a bar Friday night,” she stated.
After contacting South’s sisters, who had no information on their brother’s whereabouts, Brabson and Sykes waited a few days to see of their father would show back up at home. When he did not, they contacted the sheriff’s department. After reporting her father missing, Brabson talked with then investigator Richard Knowles. “He told me he was a grown man and he could do what he wanted,” she stated.
“He was a loner,” Brabson said. According to Brabson, the last place South was seen was at Town and Country Package Store that was located in Mountain City. With no information on their father, Brabson and Sykes turned to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Despite an investigator talking with neighbors, no evidence was found. “It felt like it was one less South to deal with,” Brabson stated. “They didn’t care.”
According to Brabson, years later, the new county investigator, Joe Woodard, renewed the search for South. Records had been lost over the years, and Woodard had to start from scratch. “Woodard just showed so much interest,” Brabson stated. “The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation became involved. They went out with a helicopter,” she said. “His car was never found. “
After approximately seven to eight years after South was first missing, Brabson requested the case files for her father. “All I was given was a missing persons report,” she stated, adding she was told all of South’s files were lost. According to Brabson, she hired a private detective but there was no new information on her father.
According to Johnson County investigator, Joe Woodard, South’s case is still open. “We always look at it,” said Woodard. “We don’t ever file away a missing persons report.” According to Woodard, bones were found near South’s home on October 13, 2017 and more recently on November 8th. The bones will be taken pathology in Johnson City to identify the remains as human or animal.
John South would be 74 years old this year. He was a veteran, going straight from high school to Vietnam.
“I just want to know where he’s at,” Brabson stated.
If you have any information on South, Brabson asks that you contact her at [email protected]