Richard “Blake” Cowart, 28, of Kingston was last seen about 10 p.m. April 3 when his girlfriend said the couple went to bed, according to a Bartow County Sheriff’s Office report.
The report, filed Thursday and sent to media Monday, said the woman woke at 4 a.m. to find Cowart gone from the bed but, because he goes outside to smoke, the woman said she did not think it was unusual. However, when she woke at 7:30 a.m. Thursday to find Cowart missing, she became concerned.
Police responded about 10 a.m. Thursday and began checking the surrounding area. According to the report, the residence sat about 15 yards from the Etowah River and the responding deputy asked for assistance from the Department of Natural Resources and Bartow County Fire Department.
A search of the woods and river bank, which lasted until nightfall, did not locate anything of significance. A DNR K-9 unit also searched the area Thursday, with the agency bringing in a helicopter Friday to do an aerial search of the location.
No further search has been conducted, leaving the family dispirited.
“It’s mostly total frustration because we can’t seem to get any answers from the authorities on what they’re doing or if they are going to do anything,” Pam Hyde, Cowart’s aunt, said. “They’ve told us the DNR was going to put boats in the water looking for him and they told us that three days ago. And they told us yesterday for sure they would do it [Monday] and they didn’t do it [Monday]. Now they’re saying [today].”
BCSO Investigator Sgt. Jonathan Rogers said missing persons cases are handled on a case-by-case basis.
“A deputy/investigator takes the initial missing persons report. Usually there is enough information to enter the missing person into the GCIC/NCIC databases as a nationwide lookout for law enforcement agencies,” he said.
“A law-abiding adult citizen has the right to leave under their own power without notifying anyone, so if there are no other circumstances to the situation, the entry into the database is all that is done. In some cases, there are circumstances that warrant a local or area search, such as the missing person did not take a vehicle or has medical issues or other reasons. In that case, deputies look for anything that may indicate foul play or an accident in the area,” Rogers said. “If nothing is still found at this point, the case will rely on other information being found or given as to what may have caused the person to go missing. Lacking more to follow up on, the missing person remains listed as missing in the database. Law enforcement also gives information to surrounding agencies about the missing person. If any new details or tips are reported, deputies and investigators will follow up appropriately.”
Cowart, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 150 pounds, was last seen wearing pajamas and left without any personal belongings.
“Thursday, they were under the impression he could be in the river or he could just be wandering around or he could have left, you know, on his own,” Hyde said. “He had on his pajama pants and nothing else. He didn’t have his phone with him, billfold with him or anything with him. So, the fact that he just left is, to me, impossible, but you know, he could have.”
According to Hyde, a volunteer, who had served as a tracker in Afghanistan, located a possible point of entry into the river.
“The place he found was actually, I mean, like 500 feet from the cabin they lived in,” she said. “They marked it off and you could see where it looked like somebody had slid — you wouldn’t really be able to measure a footprint because of the mud. It’s hard to say. I don’t know what he thinks.”
Cowart suffered short-term memory loss and seizures, according to his aunt, after he suffered a fall last year.
“I am not sure on the seizures how often [he has them],” Hyde said. “The main thing is he gets confused. He doesn’t know, like, where he is. He gets confused, and then, when he gets confused, he gets frustrated.”
According to the report, Cowart’s sister told authorities the man “had a problem with illegal drugs and that he had been up for several days.”
Hyde said Cowart “at one time” had a problem with drugs and the girlfriend had reported he was hallucinating.
“That is another thing [whether Cowart was on drugs] we are not real sure of. He had been trying to come off the drugs,” she said. “... I was told that [the girlfriend] told them he was saying, ‘People are after us, and we’ve got to leave.’”
Anyone with any information is asked to call BCSO at 770-382-5050 or dial 911.