Hunters can help in missing man case

Published 5:56 pm Saturday, December 14, 2013

GARYSBURG – There have been numerous documented cases where hunters have stumbled across clues that led to the discovery of human remains.

While she would rather have her son home safe and sound, especially at this typically joyous time of the year, Lola Robinson has come to grips with what could prove to be the sad consequences of the case concerning her missing son.

Shawn Cornelius Alston has been missing since Oct. 18, 2012. Alston vanished on that date. 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.

“I put up a Christmas tree for the first time this year, but there’s no decorations….I’d rather have my baby here to help me decorate it,” Robinson said from her home on Warner Bridge Road near Garysburg.

“All I do is sit and think of what happened to Shawn….who took him, who harmed him,” she added. “I make calls to the (Northampton) Sheriff’s Office, but so far there’s nothing to report.”

Robinson said some forensic clues did surface, found in a van. However, the news of what those clues hold hasn’t been shared.

“Not a phone call yet (from law enforcement),” she said. “It’s been a while since the evidence was collected. I thought I might have heard something by now.”

In the meantime, Robinson said local hunters may be able to help.

“They’re in the woods a lot at this time of the year,” she noted. “I would ask them to keep their eyes open for anything unusual…..something out of place or maybe even what looks like a shallow grave. If they do see something odd, please call the (Northampton) Sheriff (252-534-2611).”

Robinson said she has made the same plea with newspapers in Roanoke Rapids and Greensville/Brunswick counties (just north of the state line in Virginia).

In an interview with Robinson this past summer, she told this newspaper of the timeline of her son’s disappearance.

“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 shared the names of the five men with local law enforcement officials.

“One of them volunteered to come in and take a polygraph test, but he backed out at the last minute; that ought to raise a red flag right there,” she alleged.

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.

Alston is described as 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.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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