Where is CHS alumnus Austin Atkinson?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Austin Atkinson, a 2009 graduate of Cassville High School, was living in Ozark when he last made contact with his friends and family. Over the last three and a half weeks, Sherry Atkinson, Austin's mother, has worked night and day to find her son, who was last heard from on May 12.

Sherry and her mother, Lela Lottmann, who is Austin's grandmother, describe the CHS alumnus as a quiet young man, who loved to read and draw.

"He could go in his bedroom and spend half the day reading," said Lottmann.

"He loves being by himself," said Sherry. "He is kind of a quiet kid, but he is a good boy, and this is not like him."

Sherry and her husband, Gary, last spoke to their son about a month ago, one week before they realized Austin was missing. Their son would traditionally call every two weeks and text on the weeks that he did not phone, said Sherry.

"He was planning on going to OTC (Ozark Technical College), and we had some tax papers that he needed by the end of the month, but he never called back," said Sherry.

Austin was living in Ozark to be close to a friend. The young man was employed at Laser Striping and Sealing.

"He didn't pick up his last pay check," said Sherry. "The people he worked with told me that they were worried the second day that he didn't show up to work. They said he would always call if he couldn't make it in to work."

Austin's employer told Sherry they would call her if he showed up to claim his pay, but that phone call has never come.

"There has been no phone activity and no Facebook activity since May 12," said Sherry. "It's just not like him. He has a routine, and he sticks to that routine."

Sherry said she originally became concerned when Austin's employer called one of his friends to inquire about the young man. The friend in turn called Sherry to ask if Austin was okay.

"I said, 'He's not here,'" said Sherry. "Then, I called Ozark to report him missing."

When Sherry contacted the Christian County Sheriff's Department she was told that the report would need to be made in Barry County. Sherry visited the Barry County Sheriff's Department to file a missing person's report, and the Christian County Sheriff's Department later began an investigation.

Sherry and Gary have been told very little about the investigation into their son's disappearance. They do know that Christian County subpoenaed Austin's phone records. They also know that law enforcement officials have confiscated a note that may have been written by Austin.

"My husband went up last week to give them a handwriting sample," said Sherry. "We don't know if the handwriting matched the notes. I haven't heard back from Christian County."

Sherry said she gets the feeling that Christian County law enforcement officials believe Austin just doesn't want to be found.

"I am hoping he did just leave," said Sherry. "That way I can kick his butt and then hug him."

Austin's family is doing what it can to draw attention to their son's case. They have placed flyers across southwest Missouri and in Kansas City and St. Louis. They are also asking Facebook users and local media to share their story.

"We need lots of prayers," said Sherry. "Right now, it is really hard. If anyone has seen anything or think they know anything at all, we would appreciate any help we can get.

"He didn't call on Mother's Day," said Sherry. "It is not like him. If he was going out of town he would let me know and tell me when he would be back. He wouldn't just leave."

Austin drives a 1991 red Dodge Ram. His vehicle has not been found at this time.

Individuals with information on Austin are asked to call the Christian County Sheriff's Office at 417-581-2332.

Editor's note: the Christian County Sheriff's Department could not be reached for comment as of press time.

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