CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A Carter County man remains missing after disappearing from his home last Thursday.
Family members told News Channel 11 that 65-year-old Thomas Hastings has dementia and has been known to wander off before, but never like this.
His wife, Cindy Hollis, said he must’ve left the house sometime late Thursday into early Friday morning.
“When I went in to wake him up for breakfast, he wasn’t in the bed. So I started looking around and thinking he would wander back up, or that he was just outside, but my security cameras didn’t catch anything overnight,” Hollis said.
His youngest sister, Kathy Maly, who lives over six hours away, came into town as soon as she heard the news. Maly, her husband, and daughter are all aiding in the search effort, passing out flyers, knocking on doors, and most recently, organizing a community search party.
While Hastings could be anywhere, they strongly believe he went into the woods behind the home.
“With the type of shoes he had on and his mobility issues, he couldn’t have gotten very far. It would be hard for Tom to get far, but we’ve got to look in nooks and cranny’s for him,” said Maly.
While family and friends remain incredibly concerned, hope is far from lost. On Tuesday morning, over a dozen civilians came out to search alongside a private investigator, tracking dog, and even officials with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Dexter Lunceford requested two bloodhounds be brought out from the prison to help aid in the search.
“They can pull scents, one scent out of 100. They’re scent specific and then you get them on that track of that scent and in the past we’ve used them a couple of times and have been very successful,” said Lunceford.
The terrain behind the home is rough but every inch of it is being inspected. However, it’s still complicating search efforts.
“With the foliage the way it is, you can walk right by somebody and not know that they were there,” said private investigator Chris Colbaugh.
According to Lunceford, the foliage also makes it difficult to use drones equipped with heat sensors so the best method of searching at this time is on foot. But officials feel they’re on the right track.
“We feel rather confident that he has disappeared into the woods somewhere,” Lunceford said.
If you see Hastings or know of his whereabouts, please contact 911 immediately.