BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL)- Easter weekend of 2021 was the last time Blountville native Ralph Nelson was seen or heard from.
Last week, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office put out his information again, asking for tips to help locate him.
News Channel 11 spoke with Nelson’s sister and investigators, who say two years with no closure is far too long.
“Family wants to know where our brother is. My brother called me too much for it to be two years that he’s not contacted me,” said Nelson’s sister, Penny Ash. “Anything’s possible with anybody. But why would he go two years and not contact me? And we talked all the time. My brother didn’t work a steady job and needed money, and he [knew] if he would call me that I would buy him cigarettes or gas.”
Ash and her sister, Carrie Davis, have spent the last two years wondering what could’ve happened to their brother.
“He had never been to a doctor to have any mental illnesses or anything but life was taking a toll on him. Just as rough as life is,” said Ash.
Nelson was 51 years old when he was last seen.
“He loved old people. He talked to anybody and everybody that he would come in contact with. Hundreds and hundreds of [them], everybody in the whole area knows my brother,” Ash said of Nelson. “It’s really heartbreaking just not knowing what has happened to him. When he would never have done this like this, there’s no reason for him to just vanish and not speak to us.”
A report from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office states he’s been missing since April 4, 2021. Ash last spoke to him on March 27. The last known sighting of him was at Cave Hill Road and Patterson Hill Road in Blountville.
“We’ve tried to pull up electronic records, that kind of thing, to see if there were any communication. We’ve actually done some grid searches of the area using several different agencies, helped us initially, did a few days of him being reported,” said Lt. Matt Price with the Sullivan Co. Criminal Investigations Division. “We have missing people reported, I would say, relatively routinely. But most times, they’re found relatively quickly – we don’t have the unknown.”
Since then, authorities have had no new leads on where Nelson could be.
“We really don’t know what happened to him. Somebody does, somewhere I feel has knowledge or information [of] where he’s at,” Price said.
Investigators say they have no reason, at this time, to suspect foul play or to believe he’s no longer alive.
“It’s not against the law to disappear. But it’s not illegal to not tell your family or your friends where you’re at,” said Price. “We never want to leave a case like this just hanging out here open. We like to have some kind of resolution.”
The unknown about what happened to Nelson is difficult for investigators, but even more unfathomable for his family.
“I need peace. It’s very depressing. Not knowing where he is, if he’s okay,” said Ash. “If he needs to be put to rest, then we need to find him and put him to rest.”
The SCSO said Nelson was 51 years old at the time he was reported missing. Nelson, who would be 53 as of March 2023, was described as follows:
-Weight: 150 lbs.
Anyone with information on Nelson’s location is encouraged to contact SCSO investigators at 423-279-7506.