Red Jumpsuit Apparatus guitarist cuts through noise to help find missing man in Middleburg woods

Musician Randy Winter was instrumental in search for missing man

Musician Randy Winter was instrumental in search for missing man

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – A guitar player for a nationally known rock band was instrumental Monday in finding a missing man in Middleburg.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office posted an alert Monday, looking for David Willard, and Randy Winter, rhythm guitarist for the Middleburg-based band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, sprang into action.

He learned investigators were scouring some woods near his home with ATVs and a chopper and because he is very familiar with the area, he offered a helping hand.

Winter said he thought his highly trained ears, tuned by decades as a musician, might help.

When he was out searching, he waited for the ATVs to pass so there wouldn’t be motor noises to hamper his ability to hear.

“I was like, ‘Well, I hear something, but they don’t seem to be responding,’ so I kind of hang out there for a minute and it was like an uncomfortable minute just standing there waiting because I know my wife went further,” he said.

Winter said he stopped searchers and alerted them to the noise he’d heard.

“They kind of looked at me a little disbelief and apprehensive because time is so valuable in a search, and I pointed out I definitely heard it,” Winter said. “They stopped their ATVs and the sound didn’t happen again.”

But it did eventually come again, and Winter said the group knew at that point it wasn’t a naturally occurring noise -- it was Willard trying to call for help. He was eventually found and returned home.

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus started in Middleburg in 2003 and quickly sprang to national prominence in 2006 when their single “Face Down” was released.

Winter said the band recently released their newest album “Emergency EP” which was delayed due to the pandemic. It was originally recorded in 2019.

While the band has conducted national tours, Winter said he enjoys living in Middleburg. He’s been in his current home in Clay County for around five years.

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