Seven years later, two Jacksonville boys are still missing.
In 2005, Mark Degner and Bryan Hayes walked away from Paxon Middle School. They were first thought to be runaways, but now police have no idea what happened to them.
Friday marked Degner's 20th birthday.
His mother, Linda Alligood, is still holding out hope, wishing to hear her son's voice.
"I'm still waiting for that day he picks up the phone and says, 'Hey, mom, I'm alive. I'm ok.' You know?" Alligood said.
At 12 years old, her son and his 13-year-old friend Hayes vanished. They were last seen by a teacher at Paxon Middle.
"That morning, I gave him a hug and kiss and gave him money for school lunch, and told him, 'I love you and I'll see you in the afternoon,' and he said, 'OK, mom. I'll see you in the afternoon.' And that was it," Alligood said.
The family posted reward signs in store fronts, went door to door, and worked closely with police. There are still no leads, and Alligood can't even be sure her son is still alive.
"I'm worried that I can see him and not know that's him, you know?" she said. "Because I remember when he was little, his picture when he was little, not when he's older."
Seven years later and the search still continues. Even the school where the boys went missing keeps up their pictures, hoping that someday they'll be found.
"It is still a missing persons case, because what has happened is, from the time they went missing up until now, they've age enhanced the photographs to show what they look like now," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said.
Jefferson, who worked for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office when the boys dissapeared, believes the computerized age progressions could help to identify Degner and Hayes.
"You hate to think the worst has happened, but it's a mystery how they just kind of vanished off the earth and no one has an inclination as to what happened or where they might be," Jefferson said.
Alligood said she knows in her heart that both boys will one day return.
"They're still out there, just keep an eye out, you know," Alligood said.