Family and Friends Search for Missing Man in Proctorville and Huntington

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email

PROCTORVILLE, Ohio (WSAZ) – It’s now been more than a week since James Darren Mathis, 38, was last seen, and his family wants him home.

Family members, friends and strangers came together Saturday in Proctorville and Huntington to search for Mathis, gathering in a grocery store parking lot before the sun came up.

His wife of eight years, Lisa, told she last saw him on Thursday, December 12 about 9 p.m. when the couple was going to bed. When she woke up at 1:30 a.m., Darren wasn’t there.

Lisa said she figured he had gone to the store because he hadn’t been sleeping well recently, but that he left his wallet and phone at home.

An hour later, police showed up at the house, saying they had found Darren’s car on the 31st Street Bridge in East Huntington, but no sign of Darren.

Lisa said that she didn’t think he was capable of committing suicide without leaving a note and that they had a happy marriage.

“Darren was great,” Teresa Atkins, Lisa’s twin sister, said, choking up. “He was great to everybody.”

Asked how the family was feeling more than a week after Darren was last seen, Atkins said, “It's a very bad feeling. It's devastating. It's nothing that anybody should have to go through.”

Mark Mayes has been through it before. He said he is friends with some of Darren and Lisa’s friends and decided to search with them this weekend because his father disappeared nearly three years ago.

“So we understand the struggles, day to day and night to night,” Mayes said. “It was ten days. We did finally find Dad, but it wasn't the ending we wanted. But it was good to have a little bit of closure.”

He added, “It's tough. Unless you've been through it, I don't think you completely understand and you watch the news probably like you've never watched before, just trying to see if you hear something.”

Mayes and his son searched along the river at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington, where recent rain and high water made the search tougher.

“It washes up a lot of debris, brush, trash, so it just makes it much more difficult for anything to stand out,” Mayes said.

Still, family members are hoping for anything that could lead them to Darren.

“We just want him home. We just want to bring Darren home,” Atkins said.

Mathis is described as about 5 feet, 11 inches tall, with a thin build and straight, graying hair. He has five tattoos, including one on each arm.

Huntington Police and the U.S. Coast Guard searched the Ohio River after finding his car on December 13, but did not find him.

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