Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 12, 2011

‘He’s just gone’ — Tazewell County man vanishes without a trace in August 2002

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — There is little left to maintain the memory of a man who disappeared almost nine years ago; some posters, a sheriff's office file, some photos and a mother who wants to know what happened to her son are all that remain.

James Harlin Boyd was 42 when he was last seen in the Richlands, Va., area around the week of Aug. 19, 2002. He would be 50 today, said Capt. Anne E. Hickman of the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office.

Hickman checked a thick case file. Boyd was a white male who was approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. His eyes were light blue and he had light brown hair. He had been living at T & C Mobile Home Park in Raven, Va. Hickman said he might have used names such as James Boyd Boyd and James B. Cleaning at some time. Records did not show an employer, but it is believed that he did general labor.

Boyd had a civil record that contained only minor offenses such as traffic infractions and bad checks for small amounts of money, Hickman said.

“There was some speculation at the time that he had gotten involved in drugs and that could have led to his disappearance,” she added. “We believe there are people in the Tazewell County area that may know what happened to James Boyd.”

Boyd was closely associated with one male person of interest who was found driving his car shortly after his disappearance, Hickman said. This person was later arrested on a probation violation and went to jail for charges that occurred in Farmville, Va. Investigators interviewed the subject in prison. Hickman plans to listen to it again.

“They didn't seem to think it was of much significance then, I'm going to try again,” he said.

The sheriff's office routinely checks Boyd's description and records against reports of unidentified human remains that have been located.

“We get hits from the National Crime Information Center, which is the NCIC and the FBI on occasion,” Hickman said. “We get them pretty often and they say they have found unidentified remains. We had one that was as recent as January.”

Dental records were checked, but the remains in question were not those of Boyd. The investigation continues, but there are few clues.

“It's not like we don't try,” she explained. “It's hard to work on it consistently because there's nothing to go on. He's just gone.”

Hickman picked up a bundle of letters from Boyd's mother, Shelby Jean Owens.

“She just sent loads of letters to the sheriff's office and told us how sad it made her that he had disappeared. She could not reconcile herself that she had lost him in such a manner,” Hickman said.

Boyd's mother spoke about going into a nursing home when they spoke last year, Hickman said, adding she had tried to reach other members of Boyd's family, but had been unable to contact them.

Anyone with information can contact Hickman at 276-988-1157 or Lt. Michael Mosley at 276-988-1158.