NATCHEZ — The instructions were simple — walk 10 feet and look for something, anything, which might be a clue. If you do find something, don’t touch it. It might be nothing, but the woods in the Kingston area might be a crime scene.
With those orders under their belts, dozens of volunteers, most of them from out of state, descended into the woods in the Kingston area. The volunteers were performing a grid search in the hope that the previous combing of the area had overlooked some vital clue as to the whereabouts or eventual fate of Shaun Thornhill.
Thornhill’s father, Joe Thornhill, had trouble hiding his emotions as he waited for Wednesday’s search to begin.
“It has been a rough month-and-a-half,” he said.
“Out of all this time, we haven’t had the slightest hint he is even here.”
Shaun Thornhill’s last known sighting was Jan. 23 in St. Francisville, La. The only clue that he was in Adams County was the fact that his truck was found locked and abandoned on Kingston Road later that week. Joe Thornhill said his son was looking for work on a tugboat in towns along the river before he disappeared.
Since the discovery of the truck, a number of search parties have worked the area for clues, bringing in search dogs and — early on — helicopters. Initial phases of the search had to be halted to allow for overflowing creeks to fall back within their banks.
Because Thornhill was last seen in St. Francisville, the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office is conducting a parallel investigation with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, and Wednesday it was the WFPSO that coordinated the search.
WFPSO Col. Randy Metz said the search teams would work their way slowly west from the site where Thornhill’s truck was found until they reached U.S. 61, turn around and work their way back to the starting point. The process would then be repeated on the other side of Kingston Road.
“Keep in mind we are moving at a slow pace because we want to be thorough,” Metz said. “Our speed is also going to be determined by the thickness of these woods.”
In addition to having the volunteers walking on the ground, Metz said a search of the creeks in the area would be a part of Wednesday’s efforts.
While searchers prepared for the trek through the woods by taping their boots closed against their pants and spraying every inch of their bodies with DEET-based insect repellents, Shaun Thornhill’s niece Sydney Roberts moved back and forth between getting ready for the search and comforting distraught family members.
“It will be nice to find anything that would lead to an answer,” she said.
That wasn’t to be, however. Amy Haring, a friend of the family who helped coordinate Wednesday’s search, called the fact that the volunteers didn’t find anything “bittersweet.”
“We didn’t find him, so there is a chance he is alive, but it is a bit of a strain on where to go from here,” she said. “There are a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle, and I feel like someone out there knows something, and I wish they would come forward.
“Shaun is a great guy, and he had a huge heart. He has a lot of people who love him and want him found.”
The Kingston searches are apparently at an end, Haring said.
It’s not what he wants, but Joe Thornhill said knowing that his son isn’t in the Kingston area is better than knowing nothing.
“I would be happy to have some closure after this, to know that he’s not here, so we can move on to some other phase,” he said.
Anyone who has seen or has information about the whereabouts of Shaun Thornhill is asked to contact the ACSO at 601-442-2752.http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/2012/03/08/...rson-under-way/