Family of missing man still hopeful 1 year later

ST. STEPHEN, SC (WCSC) - By Harve Jacobs  bio | email | Twitter

ST. STEPHEN, SC (WCSC) - One year after a St. Stephen man disappeared, his family is speaking out again, hoping someone will come forward with information.

Joe Swinton, 46, hasn't been seen since Jan. 17, 2010, when he failed to pick up his son at his mother's house.

"It's been rough not knowing where he is," said Swinton's sister, Shirley Swinton.

Five days after he disappeared, Berkeley County Sheriff's deputies found Swinton's truck in a wooded area not far from his home.

"I just pray to the Lord to show me what happened to him," said the missing man's mother, Mary Swinton.

A two-day search from the air and ground turned up no clues or signs of the missing man.

"Sometimes I look at the picture and I keep saying, Joe, where are you, could you tell me what happened to you?" Shirley Swinton said.

One of Swinton's family members said that on Christmas Day 2009, he told her that "one of these days he was going to disappear and that they would never know where he was." At the time, the family thought it was a joke.

"We want to know where he's at, why did he leave?" asked Swinton's sister. "Did someone do something to him and if they did, why?"

Family members said Swinton does not have any medical problems and as far as they know, he has no enemies.

They have heard rumors he may have run off to Mexico, but they don't buy that theory.

"There's still hope. As long as, I said before last year at this same time, if there's no body, there's still hope," said Lucretia Varner, Swinton's cousin. "Every time a car rolls up in the midnight hour, I'm praying that it's him."

The family's willing to wait as long as they have to, to finally get some closure.

"I pray and hope that Joe will come home, don't matter what, don't matter what, I just hope he'll come home," Shirley Swinton said.

The sheriff's office says there is no evidence of foul play in Swinton's disappearance. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111. You can remain anonymous and may earn a cash reward.

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