Every once in awhile, you can find Twiggs County Sheriff Darren Mitchum in his office, going over what he calls one of the most puzzling cases he has in his files.
Although he wasn’t sheriff at the time, Mitchum says he’s as caught as can be in the search for Dean.
“We continue to run down every possibility You like to think that something like that is possible because I mean if you look back there are people who escaped from prison and lived out the rest of their life until they die of old age,” Mitchum says.
The county’s chief investigator, Captain Chip Stokes, remembers getting the call — a mother frantically looking for child.
“Drove up and spoke to Dorothy Dean, Teresa’s mother. She was kind of frantic a little bit to say that her daughter left and went down to a friend’s house earlier in the evening and never showed up back home,” Stokes says.
Deputies say it wasn’t unusual for Teresa to make that walk.
Investigators didn’t waste any time interviewing possible witnesses.
“Going back through the volumes of case files. There were several, several people that were polygraphed and interviewed during the early stages of the investigation before my time,” Mitchum says.
Not one person saw what happened to Teresa.
“We made a grid of the neighborhood where she lived and a perimeter on the outside of that. Probably within about a five mile radius surrounding the neighborhood she lived in,” Mitchum says.
The sheriff’s office received hep from both the Georgia and Federal Bureaus of Investigation on the ground, in the air, and in nearby bodies of water.
Teresa’s picture is still on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website along with an age progression rendering.
“Ironically we still get information from time to time from people that say that they knew of some of her family or were friends with some of her family,” Mitchum says.
Leads that end up running cold — leaving the sheriff and his investigators back at square one as they continue to wait for justice.
“I could not imagine having a son or daughter that just vanishes. I don’t believe people just vanish off of the face of the earth. Something happened to them and most of the time, somebody knows what,” Mitchum says.