Reward offered in search for missing Berkeley Co. man
HUGER, SC (WCSC) - Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads investigators to the whereabouts of a 78-year-old man who disappeared Sunday.
Berkeley County deputies say Willie Toomer, a well-known resident of the Cainhoy community, walked to church on Sunday at approximately 8:30 a.m. and was given a ride home after church by a parishioner who dropped Toomer off at his home at approximately 12:30 p.m.
When he missed his daily meetings with family and friends that evening and Monday morning, they became concerned and checked his home, which they found unlocked, deputies say.
"Often times a church member would return him home," said Dot Scott, Toomer's sister-in-law. "This is absolutely out of the norm for him."
"It's really sad because every day I look out that door… I look to see him sitting under that tree," said Carolyn Singleton, owner of Singleton Feed and Grocery.
Singleton considers Toomer her personal security guard. She said Toomer walks to the store on a daily basis, but for the last four days, he's been missing.
"He comes, and he sits under that tree," she said. "He comes in here. He loves his Pepsi... his Pepsi and his Beanee Weenee. He comes in and gets his Pepsi, his Beanee Weenee every day."
Now a flier can be seen outside of the store with details surrounding Toomer's disappearance.
"I wish I knew [what happened]," Singleton said. "I wish I knew. He's not that type... his routine is home, here, church. That's his routine. He don't wander off no place."
"Willie is always at church," said Rev. Shawn Chestnut, Pastor of Steward Chapel United Methodist Church. "Mr. Toomer just walked through like normal, going home like normal. So we had no reason to think anything different."
Rev. Chestnut said the congregation at Toomer's church is worried about what happened to him.
"It just bothers you to think that someone who is so kind and caring, that doesn't bother anybody, that the community enjoys, is missing," Chestnut said. "It's just grievous to my heart."
"It's the most uncomfortable situation not knowing," Scott said.
Like Singleton, Chestnut said Toomer's disappearance doesn't feel right. She suspects foul play.
"I really think somebody might have bothered him," she said. "That's all I can think because I don't think he wandered away. I just don't believe that."
"I believe there's foul play," Scott said. "We're absolutely sure about his routine. He's a creature of habit."
Approximately 40 deputies were on foot Tuesday searching trails and surrounding areas near Huger, Berkeley County Chief Deputy Mike Cochran said.
Deputies are passing out flyers and asking anyone who knows anything about Toomer's whereabouts would come forward.
"They've come in on four-wheelers, little buggies, going in and out of the woods," Singleton said.
"They have done so much, and we appreciate that," Scott added. "They've kept us updated on what they've been doing."
At this time there's no word on whether authorities consider Toomer's whereabouts suspicious.
A prayer vigil will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at Stewart Chapel for Toomer.
Toomer was last seen wearing a black suit but could have possibly changed into a light colored shirt and Khaki style pants, according to a release from Crime Stoppers. He has difficulty walking and "shuffles" his feet while he walks, investigators say.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office at 843-719-4412 or Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111.
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