George Owens

Real Name: George Owens
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Nolensville, Tennessee
Date: July 22, 1985

Bio[edit | edit source]

Occupation: Church Minister
Date of Birth: 1905
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 160 Pounds
Marital Status: Married to Alene Owens (Alene died in 1989)
Characteristics: African-American male. White hair and brown eyes. George wore eyeglasses and used a cane to help him walk.

Case[edit | edit source]

Details: For more than twenty years, seventy-nine-year-old George Owens was the associate minister of the New Hope Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He was well-known and well-liked in his church. He and his wife Alene had been married for sixty years. In July of 1985, Alene traveled to Ohio to visit her niece. At 6:30AM on Monday, July 22, she returned to Nashville as scheduled. George arranged to meet her at the bus station; however, he never arrived. She waited an hour before calling George's brother Alfred. He told her that he would come pick her up. Before leaving, he called George's home but received no answer.
When Alene arrived back at their home in Nolensville, she knew something was wrong when she discovered that George's car was not in the garage. She and Alfred went inside and found that there were two place settings on the kitchen table. He immediately contacted the authorities, but the investigation turned up nothing. Six days later, George's car was found abandoned on a remote rural hilltop more than 100 miles from home. There was no evidence of a struggle or foul play. The keys were still in the ignition, the back door was open, and his cane was propped against the car. Inside, investigators found his jacket and a pile of kindling wood.
Within a week, a local television station aired a missing persons bulletin about George. Several people in another part of Tennessee recognized his picture. On Monday, July 22, three hours after he was supposed to pick his wife up at the Nashville bus station, George was seen eighty miles away, traveling along Route 13. At a filling station in Santa Fe, he stopped to have a flat tire repaired. The owner recalled that George paid him in cash. He then asked for directions to Nolensville; however, the owner apparently misheard him and gave him directions to Lobelville.
No one knows what George was doing in that part of Tennessee. His home is located in Nolensville, which is thirty miles southeast of Nashville. The service station is in Santa Fe, fifty miles southwest of Nashville. Lobelville is sixty miles west of Santa Fe and more than 100 miles from George's home. On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 23, a full day after George was supposed to pick up his wife in Nashville, he was seen in a market in downtown Lobelville.
At the market, he asked clerk Mary Jo Phebus for some ice cream. After purchasing the ice cream, he went back to his car. A few minutes later, he came back into the store and purchased some cigars. He started talking about how he and his wife used to dance. He then told her that he couldn't find his wife. She believed that he was disoriented and confused. She noted that he showed some distress over being unable to locate his wife, but not enough to arouse suspicion. Mary Jo called the local clinic to see if his wife was there. However, there were no patients that fit her description. He then left the store and vanished.
Five days passed before his car was discovered twelve miles from the market. An exhaustive search-and-rescue operation was organized, but no trace of him could be found. However, the investigation did turn up one significant clue: a woman who lived near the scene claimed to have seen a pickup truck following George's car up the dirt road where it was later found. Fifteen minutes later, the witness saw the same truck coming back down the road alone.
Investigators were unable to determine the identity of the truck's driver. They were also unable to explain what was found in and around George's car. They noted that there were several piles of wood around the car. His family said that one of his habits was to go around his house, pick up wood, and place it in piles. However, Alene claimed that George's car was like his "baby" and that he would not have put a large amount of wood in the back seat. Furthermore, he never walked long distances without his cane.
Investigators are still trying to determine what happened to George. Some believe that he may have met with foul play after he left the market. Others suspect that he may have suffered a stroke and became disoriented. He may have then parked his car in the woods and wandered off. Sadly, Alene passed away in 1989. Her husband has never been found.
Suspects: Some suspect that George was the victim of foul play, mainly due to the condition of his car and the witness who reported seeing his car being followed by an unidentified pickup truck. Others suspected that he may have wandered off after suffering from a stroke.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the August 19, 1992 episode. This case was excluded from the FilmRise release of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unsolved. In 1993, after no trace of George was found for eight years, he was declared legally dead. His grandson received $33,000 from his estate. Sadly, his whereabouts remain unknown.

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