Family makes plea to find missing 91-year-old man: 'Any kind of information, please tell us'
Posted October 31, 2017 11:40 a.m. EDT
Longview, Washington — A Longview family is desperate for answers four months after their father disappeared.
Wilford Ray Johnson, 91, was last seen leaving his house on June 29, but hasn't been seen or heard from since.
Deputies said his car was found 100 miles away from his home abandoned in a ditch and there's virtually no clues about what happened to him.
His family is still fighting to find him.
"Everybody loved him, half the town knew him," said daughter Linda Bridges. "You'd go to town and he'd always be talking to someone, we'd be like 'who was that dad?'"
Family members said his sharp mind and spry demeanor made Johnson stand out in a crowd.
He remained self-sufficient, even in his 90s. He walked twice a day and stuck to a daily routine that included running errands around Longview and grabbing lunch in town.
"He had four or five places he went regularly and they all knew who he was and what he was going to order," said Bridges. "In fact, the local Taco Time would have his order ready to go as soon as he pulled in parking lot."
On June 29, Johnson's daily routine seemingly began as normal, but somewhere on that drive into town something happened.
"He'd been to neighbor's the night before for dinner and they're the ones who alerted me to fact he was missing," said Bridges. "So, he went there Wednesday night, Thursday morning they saw him take a walk and saw him leave in his car but they never saw him come home."
Johnson's family checked for their father at all his favorite places, but say no one had seen or heard from him.
That's when they called deputies for help.
"It's hard to believe you know, he totally disappeared without any clues at all. There's nothing unusual in his house, it's normal, there's a banana peel in garbage like he had it for breakfast," Bridges said.
Johnson's silver Honda was found on June 30, more than 100 miles from his home, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, abandoned, stuck in a ditch and with the keys still inside.
After seeing social media posts about Johnson's disappearance, witnesses came forward saying they noticed the car had been parked there since the June 29.
"There's nothing in the car, no blood or anything like that," said Bridges. "The window was broken out, but deputies think that happened after whoever was driving left, because the glass was all over the seat, there was no void."
In the days that followed, search and rescue crews from across the region focused their efforts in the wooded area surrounding Johnson's car, but uncovered no signs of him anywhere.
Family had trouble believing he was ever there.
Johnson didn't like to hike, or drive on the freeway and had no sentimental connections to the area.
Above all else, they say, he would never want to worry them.
"We don't think as a family that he did go up there. We don't know how the car got up there, but we don't think he went there on his own. Either someone took him, or someone took his car away from him someplace else," Bridges said.
Deputies said while there's no clear evidence of foul play, they've run out of clues.
"It's been so long, you know, so long," said Bridges. "Nobody wants to say he's gone but logically when you think of his age and the weather, you know the burning hot weather, then the cold and wet weather. Then there's the fact that if he was with someone somewhere, he would get a hold of us. So, it's hard to believe he's still alive out there, but you don't want to say that he's not."
Unsure of where to go or what to do next, Johnson's family is making another plea to the public for help.
"Any kind of information please, tell us," said Bridges. "Even if we had just another place to look. If his car was driven up there, maybe someone found it somewhere else and took it cause the keys were in it. That's another place to look and that would be helpful."
"It's really, really hard," she said. "I thought it would get easier, but it's not it's harder not having closure, or anything."
Johnson is 5 feet 11 inches tall and 180 pounds with blue eyes. He is balding with white-gray hair on the sides.
He usually wears a "Seabee" hat.