GARYBURG – Lola Robinson has two sons and a daughter to help keep her company at her home on Warner Bridge Road near Garysburg.
But there’s something missing in her life – her first-born child, Shawn Cornelius Alston.
Alston vanished on Oct. 18 of last year. The 39-year-old, who suffers from asthma, was last seen leaving a friend’s house, walking a path towards the home he shared with his mother, one other brother and a handicapped sister.
Robinson reported her son missing the next day, but to date his whereabouts remains a mystery.
Hopefully some light will be shed on this case when volunteers from the community will join the police chiefs of two local towns – George Reed of Seaboard and Jesse Stephenson of Woodland – during a search set for 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 29.
“We’ve invited anyone and everyone to come out and join us as we try to retrace Shawn’s steps on that night last October,” Robinson said.
Stephenson said he was glad to help out.
“The search will be conducted in the areas Shawn was last seen. We’re just helping to try and get the family some closure in this case; trying to develop some more leads for law enforcement to act upon,” Stephenson said.
Meanwhile, Robinson has been keeping tabs on the law enforcement investigation, one she strongly feels is not a 100 percent effort.
“My son left home that night going out to socialize with some friends,” she said. “He left his wallet here at home, his keys and his van. He was planning on returning, but never made it home. I feel sure he was walking home that night on a path he was very familiar with. He’s walked that path many times in the past. It takes about five minutes to walk from his friend’s home back home.
“There were five people involved with my son that night,” she added. “A neighbor said they saw another van parked in my driveway about 11:30 that night. I think someone intercepted my son before he got home; one of the five men he was with knows what happened. I just wish they would come forward with the truth.”
Robinson said she questioned the tactics of local law enforcement not putting more pressure on the five possible witnesses.
“I’ve given them names of young men he was with…..it seems like they’re dragging their feet about it,” she said. “I’ve met with the (Northampton) Sheriff, he said they had talked to some people and nothing has come up.”
Robinson continued, “The (Northampton) Sheriff’s Office told me that the SBI is coming in to polygraph these men. I called the SBI; they knew nothing about it. They were aware of the case, but nothing about doing a polygraph.”
Even though her son was no stranger to drinking beer and having fun, Robinson said he would not have done “anything stupid” on the night he went missing due to what was in store for him the next day.
“He had been hired to work at the Perdue plant in Petersburg (Virginia),” she said. “Shawn was ready to go that next day (Oct. 19) to take his drug test. He was supposed to start work the following Monday.”
Robinson said the Northampton Sheriff’s Office did conduct a ground search of the area; the NC Highway Patrol helicopter performed an aerial search. There was a tip that Alston may have drowned in a pond. Gaston Fire and Rescue personnel drug the pond, turning up nothing.
“We continue the search on our own. That’s why we’re holding this community search, hoping some people will come out and help us,” Robinson concluded.
Alston is a black male, standing five feet, seven inches tall and weighing between 190 and 210 pounds. He was last seen wearing khaki colored cargo shorts and a black shirt.