JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade are safely back at home, the Jacksonville mothers of two missing boys are given fresh hope they may be found.
"Never give up. Keep looking. He's still out there," said Linda Alligood, who's son, Mark Degner, disappeared from Paxon Middle School in 2005. "I mean, he might be an adult now, but he is still missing. And we love him and we want him home."
Degner, along with classmate Bryan Hayes, walked away from school eight years ago. Police at first thought they were runaways, but they still have no idea what happened to them.
"It's been pretty hard," said Alene Hayes of the eight years with no work of what happened to her son.
The families of the two missing boys were at an Amber Alert conference in Jacksonville on Tuesday. They said seeing what happened in Cleveland gives them one more reason to stay strong.
"It could happen to me. He could be coming home," Alligood said. "Always keep hope. Never give up. Never."
Police don't know what happened to 12-year-old Degner or 13-year-old Hayes, Alligood says the thought of them being held captive like the women in Cleveland is unsettling.
"It's scary," Alligood said. "You have to think about the trauma they went through and the things they've been through."
Alligood joined nearly 60 other parents and siblings waiting for missing loved ones to come home at a two-day National Amber Alert Roundtable being held in Jacksonville.
Alligood and Hayes have been supporting each other since their sons disappeared together. The families posted reward signs in store fronts, went door-to-door and worked closely with police.
Hayes admits staying encouraged can be challenging, but the good news coming out of Cleveland only strengthens their fight to find their sons.
"Just because they've been missing a long time, they're still looking for them," said Alene Hayes. "We're still looking for them, and we're going to find them."
Asked if she had a message for her son, Hayes said: "We love you and we miss you and we'll never stop hunting for you."
Both these women are hoping the public will help too, like they did in in Cleveland, looking out for things that don't seem quite right, and speaking up.
Police ask anyone who knows anything about the missing boys, or any other missing persons, call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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