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In disappearance of local resident six years ago
Officers with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police gather Wednesday after coming out of a wooded area in the Pleasant Grove community. They were searching for any clues to the whereabouts of Keith Allen Fetter, who was last seen in that area on May 24, 2008. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Thursday, March 20, 2014
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Barren trees, dense piles of dead leaves and the damp dirt floor of wooded areas off Wingfield Road showed only a few possible signs Wednesday that a Henry County man missing nearly six years ever ventured there.
“They did find some items during the search today. Now they are evaluating what, if any, evidentiary value they have,” said Henry County Sheriff’s Maj. Ricky Walker.
Authorities scoured wooded areas just off Wingfield Road, including nearby wooded areas of Mathews Mill Road and Scottdale Drive, on Wednesday as they searched for any sign of Keith Allen Fetter, according to Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry.
Fetter, 41, last was seen in that area on May 24, 2008, according to Perry and previous reports.
“At this point, he’s still listed as a missing person. We are just trying to find any evidence of him,” Walker said. “If we found anything in the woods today” it was expected to be items that would help show that Fetter actually went into the woods.
“At this point, we are trying to get closure for the family,” Walker added.
Although many searches were done at the time Fetter went missing and shortly thereafter, none has been done at this time of year, while the vegetation is dormant and before the trees bud, Perry said.
On Wednesday morning, the sheriff said the search would “be very detailed and methodical” for anything that might show Fetter was in the wooded area.
The day he disappeared, Fetter and some of his friends went to his estranged wife’s home on Mathews Mill Road to look at a dog, his former wife, Jennifer Fetter, has said.
“He had been drinking alcohol and possibly had medications in his system,” Perry said. “Basically, what we have been told in the past is this was a domestic-type situation.”
According to reports to authorities, “in an effort to get him away” from his estranged wife’s home, Fetter’s friends got him into a vehicle and left the home, Perry said.
At the intersection of Mathews Mill and Wingfield Orchard roads, authorities have been told, Fetter jumped out of the car and ran across a field opposite Mathews Mill Road.
“It’s like he completely vanished from thin air,” Jennifer Fetter has said of the man she was married to for 14 years.
She was not notified of Wednesday’s search beforehand, she said, adding that she would have appreciated being told about it beforehand.
“My daughter was very upset” by it, Jennifer Fetter said. “She had to ride the bus by them. They could have given us a heads up.”
When Fetter went missing in the summer of 2008, trees in the area where he last was seen were filled with leaves, weeds were at least knee-high and thick undergrowth compounded search efforts, the sheriff said.
“Without those things now, we can see more clearly,” and investigators are combing the area “looking for small things — a piece of clothing, a shoe” or anything that might show Fetter was there, Perry said.
“If we could find Mr. Fetter’s remains, or any sign of his personal effects, it would give the family closure and go a long way to proving the information we have been told” by witnesses, the sheriff said.
Trained dogs will be used to search in the near future, Perry said.
Anyone with information about Fetter, his whereabouts or his disappearance is asked to call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 638-8751 or Crime Stoppers at 63-CRIME (632-7463).
Rewards of up to $1,000 are available through Crime Stoppers for information related to unsolved crimes, and callers may remain anonymous. The amount of any reward is determined by the nature of the crime and the substance of information provided.