Christopher Story's family has been worried and wondering for two years.
Story's parents had dropped by his house in Mahoningtown the morning of Aug. 11, 2013, and he was not at home. They had the feeling something was amiss and let themselves in with their key to find his clothing laid out for a doctor's appointment the following day but there was no sign of him. After a marked absence, they contacted the police.
The 40-year-old Story, who suffered from mental illness and a physical disability, sometimes would leave home but the family was always able to track his whereabouts.
This time, he did not return. His family members drove from sun-up to sundown searching for him everywhere.
Now, two years later, they have amassed $3,000 through donations and fund-raisers that they continue to offer as a reward to anyone who can give them information about his whereabouts or circumstances. The New Castle Police Department, which is investigating his disappearance, donated $1,000 of that amount, and Story's youngest sister, Lindsey Stoops, said the family has remained in touch with the police throughout the investigation.
The family, too, has continued its own investigation, passing on tips to the police and searching clues from Facebook friends and acquaintances of Story. And as the two-year anniversary approached this week, his marked absence has hit home for them again. They are reinforcing their appeal for someone to come forward who knows what might have happened to him.
"We are our own private investigators. We've been looking into things on our own," Stoops said. She knows her brother's Facebook password and who is friends are, but so far, nothing has turned up any clues.
"He's gone. Everything is left behind," she said.
Although Story was on medications and had some depression, Stoops believes that street drugs are not at issue here — "he was so against drugs," she said.
"He would call us 10 times a day," she said. He had health issues and left all of his medications at his house.
Story had been in an accident and no longer was driving. He was on disability and didn't work, and he often rode the city bus. Before his disappearance, he had undergone recent spinal surgery as result of his accident injuries, and he wore a neck brace. He also had left the neck brace behind when he vanished, Stoops said.
"His cell charger and his dog also were at home," she said, adding that his dog, Ariel, a Rottweiler mix, was like his child. She's with different owners now.
When news of Story's disappearance went public, rumors went rampant on social media, his sister related. The police interviewed and questioned people, some of whom were minors, but there were no results. They also questioned the city bus drivers, she said.
"We talked to everybody. We made friends basically with all the homeless people, too," she said. "It's hard to imagine that he would just leave without looking back. He was such a family person. He had a home."
Story lived with Stoops for about a year, then he moved in with his fiancee in a house in Mahoningtown, and their relationship eventually deteriorated. It ended a few months before he disappeared, she said.
Stoops, 33, lives in New Castle and her sister, 38, lives in Petrolia. Their parents still reside in New Castle.
According to the New Castle police, the case remains open but any credible leads so far have been exhausted. Nevertheless, the police, along with Story's family, have not given up.
Chris stands around 6-foot 1-inch tall and at the time of his disappearance he weighed 160 pounds, and was of thin build with brown hair and blue eyes. He has scars on his legs and may walk with a limp. Without his prescription medication, he may be hallucinatory and appear confused, irritated or jittery, the police have reported.
Anyone who thinks they have seen Story or who may have any information about him or an unidentified person is asked to contact the city police at (724) 656-9300, or they may leave a tip on the department's online tip site at www.newcastlepd.com.