WAYCROSS, Ga. – The family of a missing 24-year-old Ware County man who was reported missing May 28 are fearing the worst and pleading for information that could aid in his discovery.
Austin James Wise has not been heard from since the early morning of May 28. He is described as a white man with brown hair and hazel eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and white shoes.
Now Wise's mother, Launa Hall, told News4Jax she believes her son is dead though there is more to his disappearance.
“This is a small town and somebody knows something and I just want him home if anybody can give me any information,” Hall said.
Hall said about the last time she saw her son, more than a week ago, she could tell then that he was upset. Hall said the 24-year-old owed money to an acquaintance. Hall worried Wise’s disappearance could be connected to his debt.
“It’s not like him to just be missing. No word, no nothing,” Hall said. “That's out of character.”
The Ware County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t said if they’re treating the case as “suspicious.”
Investigators said Wise left a home near Waycross last Sunday morning, but when a family member came to pick him up, he was gone.
Wise's cousin, Timmy Cowart, was standing near the area where Wise disappeared. He asked for anyone with information to come forward.
"We believe that there is a foul play involved. However, the people that I've seen him [with] are not speaking," Cowart said. "His mother wants him home. You know she's a grieving mother right now who doesn't know anything about where her son is at. He has an aunt that's looking for him, plenty of family that's been looking for him."
The Sheriff's Office said Wise is on parole and has not reported as scheduled. No arrest warrant was issued, but law enforcement officials are checking on his welfare.
Since the initial report, detectives on foot and on ATVs, assisted by a Georgia State Patrol helicopter have searched the area around Griffin Road, where Wise was last seen. Detectives have also interviewed witnesses and family members and continue to follow all leads.
Family members told News4Jax Wise was also seen shortly before his disappearance in Brantley County.
Anyone with information about Wise is asked to contact the Ware County Sheriff's Office at 912-287-4327 or the Ware County Dispatch Center at 912-287-4335.