‘Branchville is not that big’: Family seeking answers 1 year after son’s disappearance

‘Branchville is not that big’: Family seeking answers 1 year after son’s disappearance
Authorities say Hiram Johnson was last seen Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, near his Branchville home. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It was Black Friday one year ago when one Orangeburg County family was forever changed.

Authorities say Hiram Johnson was last seen Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, near his Branchville home. Family members said he got into a black car with someone he thought he could trust and was never seen or heard from again.

The family said Hiram Johnson, or ‘Sport’ as they call him, loves to eat, especially banana pudding. They said Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday.

Not having him at the table this year was a hard pill to swallow for the family, but regardless of the year spent without him, they hold onto hope that one day their questions will be answered, and Hiram will be found.

“He’s my son, my only son. He’s like my life,” Lorraine Johnson, Hiram’s mother said. “It’s been rough. It is rough. It’s tough to get out of bed in the morning time or even to go to sleep at night. I watch the floor a lot, looking out of windows, hoping that I could see something and I really hope that someone, somewhere knows something about Hiram.”

So far in the investigation, Branchville Police said they found Hiram’s cell phone in the parking lot of a gas station just a couple miles away from his home.

His family said they received a ransom call shortly after Hiram’s disappearance – the caller demanding $25,000 and threatening to kill Hiram.

“That was a mother’s nightmare,” Lorraine said. “Branchville is not that big. The hurting part is no one knows nothing, no one sees nothing, and this town is too small to have this to happen in this small town and no one sees or knows nothing.”

Despite the unanswered questions, Lorraine said the fight to find her son will never stop.

“I believe. I have to. That’s the only way I can make it is to believe he is out there,” Lorraine said. “If I could talk to him, I would let him know, Sport, if you are out there, even though it hurt me not to have you, if you are out there and you are ok, I just need to know.”

The family said Hiram was last seen wearing a white shirt with blue jeans and white shoes. He’s said to be about 5-foot-7 and the missing flier with his picture and description also mentions a long scar on the back of his neck that would be easy to identify, as well as a tattoo right below his neck.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is the lead agency in this case, said the case is still open.

If you have any information that can help investigators find Johnson, call the Branchville Police Department at 803-274-8820 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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