Families of the Missing: Lauderdale County missing persons family members share their story

“You always think this will never happen to me. It happens to everybody else but then when it happens to you it’s devastating.”
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - When you walk into Chief Rich Richey’s office you’ll see a flyer of a missing man by the name of Robert Gene Weems.

“Robert Gene left walking one evening. He didn’t take his glasses. He didn’t have his billfold didn’t have anything but the clothes on his back. No one’s seen or heard from him since,” said Richey.

Or if you go into Lisa Wallace’s home you’ll see many pictures of her missing son, Bradley.

“Everyday is a nightmare,” said Wallace.

Not a day goes by for them and Brenda Childers that they don’t think of their loved ones.

“If I see somebody that looks like my brother from behind and I know Shawn’s not breathing air, but I have to go and look at him,” said Childers.

There are five people that are missing in Lauderdale County

  • Weems disappeared in June 1997.
  • Shawn Childers in September 2017
  • Jerry Browning in August 2018.
  • Bradley Lard in March 2019
  • Courtney Staggs in August 2020

“You always think this will never happen to me. It happens to everybody else but then when it happens to you it’s devastating because every year you keep on thinking maybe,” said Childers.

This month makes five years since Childers’s has been seen.

Childers and Lard disappeared just a mile away from each other near County Rd 141 just a few years apart.

“It’s just scary to know that people are missing and nobody knows where they are. From the same area,” said Wallace.

Now their families sharing their grief together, they all just want one answer, to know where their loved ones are.

“I know somebody knows. I know it. I know it as sure as I am looking at you,” said Childers.

For Lard’s mom she just wants to be able to bury him in their family cemetery.

“I don’t care if anyone goes to jail at this point. I don’t care what happened. I just want to know where my baby is,” said Wallace.

Weems’s disappearance still haunts Chief Richey. He was the lead investigator on the case.

Now 24 years later, he’s still hoping for answers even though Weems’s has no living loved ones left

“I always wonder where is he? What happened to him? And even though he’s not a relative of mine, I feel the pain. I want to find him,” said Richey.

Investigators said that they are following up on new leads in Bradley’s case. However, in order to get these family members loved ones back home to them, they need people in the community to come forward.

“It’s not that we don’t care about these people. We do. We want to bring closure to these families,” said Richey.

Closure that some may wait a lifetime for.

“If I don’t find out where Shawn is, I’ll see him later. I know I will,” said Childers.

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