The Lake News Online
  • Family running out of options to find missing relative

  • Family members of a missing Camdenton man seek answers surrounding Donald Erwin’s disappearance. But answers are hard to come by, help is starting to fade, and time is short.
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  • The family of a missing Camden County man is without answers and running low on options almost three months after he disappeared without a trace.
    Donald Lee Erwin, 59, left his home the morning of Dec. 29, 2013 after telling his wife he was off to get cigarettes at a Camdenton convenience store. Erwin's wife became worried when he hadn't returned home by noon and reported him missing to local authorities.
    Soon after the report, local law enforcement, family and friends initiated a search, but no major leads came. In the early days of the search, the Camden County Sheriff's Department indicated they did not suspect foul play in his disappearance.
    "He had a quarter tank of gas and he drove away," Camden County Lt. Joe Botta told the Lake Sun. "The immediate area, we have searched numerous times."
    Authorities say they have tracked the route from Erwin's home to the convenience store he frequented. Botta said they have searched by foot, plane and boat, but have found nothing. He even told the Lake Sun that he followed up on a rumor that Erwin was living among homeless people in Springfield. Botta spent the day in Springfield, but did not find Erwin.
    For Erwin's family, the waiting is unbearable. Until recently, the family held out hope that additional resources might be available to aid in the search.
    "When you have someone missing in your life, people reach out from different organizations or strangers who just spend their life helping people like me," Yvonne Erwin, Donald's sister, said.
    A group called Texas Equusearch reached out to Yvonne to see if their services might be used to help locate her brother.
    Texas Equusearch is a mounted search and recovery team whose mission is "committed to providing experienced, organized and ethical volunteer search efforts for missing persons, utilizing the most suitable and up to date technologies and methodologies."
    According to the organization's website, they do not charge any family for conducting a search. They are a volunteer organization funded through private donations. Their ability to conduct a search simply depends on the availability of volunteers and the amount of monetary resources on hand at the time of need.
    But after speaking with Yvonne and the sheriff's department, the organization decided a trip to Camden County would merely duplicate previous efforts. A representative from the organization told Yvonne that after speaking to Botta, they determined that Camden County had already done an extensive search.
    The news has left Yvonne feeling helpless.
    "I don't understand it. I am back at the beginning with no help to find my brother except what the county has already done," she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Yvonne stays up to date as much as she can with the sheriff's department but said lately she has felt a lack of compassion and concern from the authorities. Erwin's wife no longer lives in the lake area. After efforts to find her husband were fruitless, not knowing what had happened was too painful so she moved in with her son in Lee's Summit.
    Now, only time will tell if the Erwin family will get the answers they seek. Residents are encouraged to alert law enforcement if they see or know anything related to this case.
    Erwin is listed as disabled and was not working prior to his disappearance. He is missing his left leg and has a scar on his left arm from his elbow to his wrist.
    Erwin is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs approximately 190 pounds with long brown hair he wore pulled  back in pony tail, brown eyes and a full beard.
    The last time Erwin was seen leaving for the convenience store, he was wearing a blue coat, blue jeans and grey loafers. He was driving a silver 2002 Hyundai Elantra with a Missouri license MK6-E3P.
    Erwin has been entered into MULES and NCIC data bases as a missing person. Any information or possible sightings should be reported to Camden County Sheriff's Department or other law enforcement agency. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, over 657 people have been reported missing since 1953 who have not been found.
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