Jocelyn Clark Missing, Pinebluff North Carolina…

February 10, 2010

Former student vanishes in January, searches inconclusive

by Jack Dodson, February 9, 2010

Jocelyn Clark holds her Elon University diploma. Clark has been missing since January 11th, 2010. Photo submitted.

On Jan. 11, biology professor Matt Clark got a call every parent hopes to never receive. His former wife asked him if he was sitting down, and his only response was that he hoped it wasn’t about their daughter, Jocelyn.

It was.

Crystal Gathers, Jocelyn’s mother, was calling to tell Clark that Jocelyn had gone out for a run that morning and never come back.

Jocelyn Clark is a 2007 graduate of Elon University and has lived in Durham until recently, when she moved with her mother to her grandparents’ house in Pinebluff, N.C.

Jocelyn had left the house around 8:30 a.m. By the time it was noon, Gathers said, she went to look for Jocelyn on the route she normally ran, but she was not there. The next step was to file a report with the police.

Gathers said at first she hesitated in contacting the police because she didn’t want to make an issue if Jocelyn came home. After a while, Jocelyn was still missing, so Gathers filed the report.
At 6 p.m. that night, Clark received the news that his daughter was missing.

Police searched through the area that night with dogs. Computer records have been looked at, flyers have been passed out, and while the officers are looking into some leads, nothing has led to the safe return of Jocelyn.

According to the police officer on the case, Sgt. Chris Sanderson of the Pinebluff Police Department, the incident doesn’t seem to be criminal in nature. “She left on her own, that much we do know,” Sanderson said.

Clark said he talks with Sanderson regularly about the case.

“(Sanderson) said to me on many occasions he did not think there was foul play,” Clark said.

It seemed briefly the family would be able to put out a silver alert, but Gathers said because Jocelyn wasn’t “cognitively impaired” at the time of her disappearance, she wouldn’t meet the qualifications for the program.

Because of previous medical conditions, Jocelyn could have once met the qualifications for a silver alert, Gathers said, but not anymore. A silver alert in North Carolina is issued under the circumstance that someone of any age with dementia or other mental impairment goes missing.

Clark was told he is not able to sign a document allowing a silver alert to be put out because he hasn’t seen his daughter in more than a year.

Instead, Clark has tried to rally family members to find Jocelyn. He’s contacted his family and gotten all members involved in the search, trying to get the word out.

He said that it’s a difficult situation, though, and not one he necessarily knows how to approach.

“This is not a book on my shelf as a professor I can pull down and follow the instructions,” he said.

One family member, Annie Hinds, has helped create options for the family, he said. “She calls Crystal on a regular basis,” he said. “(The family’s) all linking to Mike’s Facebook.”

The Facebook group Clark refers to was created by one of his former students, Michael James, who felt compelled to help when he was told Jocelyn was missing. “Basically, the idea is to just get her picture out there to people who haven’t seen it,” James said.

“You’re basically taking a shot in the dark,” he said, referring to the idea that someone on Facebook might know the whereabouts of Jocelyn.

To Clark, the showing of support from family and friends, all demonstrated by the group on Facebook, is welcome.

“This may not be someone who’s an Elon student now, but she’s part of this extended Elon family,” Clark said.

“(Friends and family) started calling…they were shocked, stunned, most of them torn.”

Since Feb. 3, when the group was created, the membership has drastically increased to 2,300 people.

Comments fill the wall offering prayers and support for the family.

Smith Jackson, the vice president for student life at Elon, said the university plans to support efforts to find Jocelyn, though he said there wasn’t a simple answer as to how to do that.

“We certainly want to support any efforts to find her.”

Jackson said he talked to staff and faculty members to see if they could help investigate.

Looking ahead, Clark said he’s going to let the Facebook group get the word out. He hopes it will reach family members, friends of Jocelyn’s all over the country and other people with connections to Elon that may have known Jocelyn.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Clark said. “But I hope it’s not long.”

Cynthia L. Caron
LostNMissing, Inc.
PH: 603.548.6548

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