STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Investigators in Stone County are fearing the worst as the search for a missing man nears four weeks.
Every lead so far has hit a dead end as the search for Robert Bruce Hariel intensifies.
“Do law enforcement assume something has happened to him? Yes," said Capt. Ray Boggs, chief investigator for the Stone County Sheriff’s Department.
What started as a simple missing persons case is now turning in to something more. Where is Robert Bruce Hariel? Investigators are anxious to find the answer.
“To law enforcement, it’s at a grave point where it’s critical,” Boggs said.
The 37-year-old man was last seen Jan. 11 traveling with a friend in a white car. When he didn’t show up to work the next week and no one had heard from him, family and friends became worried.
Boggs said for him to vanish without a trace is out of character.
“It’s really not like him to miss work like that,” he said.
Since then, authorities have been following up on each and every lead. The car Hariel was last seen in was later found burned in Perkinston. Boggs said it’s not the link some believe it to be.
“Everybody’s developed that theory and saying well, that’s enough. That’s not enough. That could possibly be a bad coincidence at this time,” he said.
Last week, a tip took them across county lines to Perry County where crews searched parts of Black Creek, but there was no sign of Hariel.
On Monday, another tip led them to search the Wolf River, but it was another dead end.
“At this point and time, three weeks missing, his habits and his behavior and routine, we assume something has happened to him,” Boggs said.
Time is quickly running out for any chance of finding Hariel alive.
“I know at this point some people feel like that’s slim, but there’s always hope,” said Boggs.
So Boggs and his team are ramping up their efforts, reviewing what little evidence they have, and relying on the community's help.
“Somebody out there knows exactly what happened to Hariel," he said. “We’re determined to get to the bottom of it, and we hope every day we start out that this is the day we’re going to solve it.”
Boggs stressed that anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant it’s thought to be, should call the Stone County Sheriff’s Department at 601-928-3191 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898.