MYRTLE BEACH — Johnny Lamar Brown told his family last August he was going to walk to the Family Kingdom Amusement Park while they were vacationing a few blocks south of the park in Myrtle Beach.
He hasn’t been seen since appearing on surveillance footage at a beachwear store in Surfside Beach on Aug. 3, 2012.
The family later learned he had tried calling their Cartersville, Ga. home. The last call came in about 9:30 a.m. Aug. 4 from Surfside Beach.
They just want to find him and for him to know they will never give up the search.
“We want him to know we love him,” his mother Ruby Brown said. “We haven’t given up on looking for him and we won’t give up on looking for him. We want him to call home. Just call home, Johnny.”
Brown, 45, is characterized as someone with special needs. He also has a stutter that can make communication difficult. His mother Ruby Brown explained his disability can cause him to get confused and disoriented. He stands about 5’6” and weighed about 146 pounds when his family last saw him.
He doesn’t drive and left on the walk without taking his wallet or any identification.
It was the first family vacation they had taken and it was Brown’s first time out of their hometown in Cartersville, Ga., which is about 45 miles north of Atlanta, his mother said.
“It’s not like Johnny would have wanted to walk away,” she said. “He wouldn’t have intentionally left. He’s very devoted to home and family and that’s the way he’s always been.”
At home, Ruby Brown said Johnny would walk places often, but he’d always come home and he checked in often.
“He’d call and say ‘Rubypops, I’m at this place,’ or ‘Rubypops I’ll be home in a little while,’” she said.
His father, John, a pastor who Johnny called “Rev,” said they always knew when he was close to home because his dog would start barking for him.
“Sometimes I think if that dog would just give me that bark, we’d know Johnny was outside,” Ruby Brown said.
They were supposed to leave two days after Brown didn’t return to the hotel. Instead, his parents, his two sisters and their husbands stayed another three weeks hoping to find him.
“We continued to search for him day and night, day and night,” Ruby Brown said. “But we still didn’t come up with anything.”
His parents returned again in September.
“As a mother you’re not going to just go and not come back and not worry and wonder about your child,” Ruby Brown said. “You’re not going to do that. We stayed as long as we could.”
None of their searches were successful. In December, his younger sister Julie Adams said they hired Don Myers, with 10-4 PI, a private investigator service based in Myrtle Beach.
Myers, too, said he hasn’t found any concrete leads to Brown’s whereabouts. There have been reported sightings, but none were credible since Aug. 4, he said.
Six months later, his parents, sisters and brothers are still searching. They returned Friday to the Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort where they last saw him hoping to spot him again.
“We’re going to search ourselves,” Adams said. “See if we can sight him for ourselves. He may have changed a lot by now. May have facial hair, may have gained or lost weight.”
They said he’s shy, is afraid of thunderstorms and can get upset when approached by people he doesn’t know.
Adams also said he’s friendly and may be asking to use people’s phone. His father said he’s been known to do odd jobs, specifically things like car washing.
Though their searches have been fruitless so far, John Brown said they’re not frustrated; just worried, praying and trusting in their faith.
The family goes back to Georgia Sunday, but said if their search this weekend isn’t successful they’ll be back soon to try again.
His younger brother, Roy Brown, said it’s possible Johnny may have forgotten his family’s phone numbers and said he doesn’t have a cell phone.
Anyone who may have information about Johnny Brown’s whereabouts can call Myrtle Beach police at 918-1382. The private investigator, Myers, can be reached at 222-2265.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.