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Cary Store Clerk Returns After Two-Year Disappearance

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CARY — For two years, the friends and family of a missing Cary convenience store owner wondered whether he was dead or alive. Now,Cary policesay Larry Jones is safe and sound.

Police say Larry Jones called them at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, telling them he staged his own disappearance two years ago. Police say Jones told them he left his wife and children behind because life got too tough.

"We're comfortable that he is in a safe location tonight," says Cary Police Chief Windy Hunter. "All of us face stresses in life, and sometimes people just have to go off and think about what they want to do about those stresses."

It was March 16, 1998 when Jones vanished. He was last seen where he worked, at the Parkway Convenience Store on Kildaire Farm Road. Also missing from the store he co-owned was $9,000 and the store's surveillance video.

Police searched for a kidnapper, but suspected Jones did not want to be found.

Police confirmed that in June 1999 when a former Cary resident reported seeing and speaking to someone she thought was Jones in a Mississippi casino.

In November 1999, police found Jones' truck in Kentucky, covered with a tarp, branches and leaves.

Police believe Jones was in the Gulfport, Miss. area. But after two years, they say it appears he was ready to come home.

"I think he just got to a point that he was ready to come back to the area. I think, probably, his family roots were taken in a little bit, and he was ready to come home," says Hunter.

Police will not say where Jones is currently, except that he is in the Triangle.

Jones faces a standing embezzlement charge for the missing money. Jones' attorney and police say it is unlikely he will face any extra charges related to his disappearance.