Eric Grady Smith, disappeared November 8th, 2013, Cedar Bluff, Virginia.
On Friday, November 8th, 2013, Eric Smith left his home on West Hurt buggy Road in Cedar Bluff in Virginia to go hunting on his 40 acre property. That was the last time he was seen and over four years later Eric has never been found.
That evening Eric hadn't returned and with temperatures dropping, his wife first went to see his mother at a local church with her concerns. The congregation of the church then sprang into action to begin the informal search and subsequently authorities were notified.
Eric was a foreman at a local Consol Energy owned Buchanan No. 1 coal mine, in charge of over 500 people. Unusually for him, his wife had called in sick on his behalf for several days before his disappearance saying he had flu-like symptoms. He was blind in one eye.
He was wearing camouflage-print hunting clothes and a titanium Timex watch and carrying a Thompson Center .50 calibre muzzle-loading gun with a stainless steel barrel and a camouflage-print stock. Unusually, he left his cellphone behind at his house.
A Virginia state police helicopter with FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) was used that night and the next day a search began using sniffer dogs. Several scents leading from the Smith residence were detected but went nowhere. At least one of these trails appear to head back to the home but could have been some days old.
Cedar Bluff Police Chief David Mills said “Smith carried a muzzleloader with him, with one shot likely already loaded so search coordinators brought explosive detection dogs into the search yesterday from the Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. These dogs are trained to detect material that goes into explosive devices with includes gun powder.”
By Sunday afternoon, November 10th, around 60 people were involved including trained search and rescue teams from across the region, coworkers from Consol Energy, fire department members, and other members of the community. Six air scent dogs were also used. Cedar Bluff Police Chief David Mills, coordinator of the search said with Smith wearing high tech camo the search was much more difficult. “He can be lying down and he would be impossible to see,” Mills said. The terrain was also a big problem in the search. With thick underbrush and steep hills, it is necessary to cover an area multiple times to be thorough.
Despite a $20,000 reward for information leading to his location and or recovery nothing was found or reported
Eric hunted on his property year after year and knew them inside out. His tree stand was less than a mile from his home so if he was overcome by illness/weakness it would have been expected he would have been found quickly. Yet there has never been any sign of Eric, his clothing or his weapon despite extensive searches. Some believe he was never on the property and may have run off, but this seems unlikely as he was close to his family. Others have speculated that his wife may have been involved, as Eric was not heard from or seen because of his apparent illness for days before he vanished. Another theory was that Eric was accidentally shot by someone hunting in the area where his stand was and hid his body or he came across illegal hunters or meth producers who may have harmed him. Some have postulated that he fell in a sinkhole or cave and that is the reason that neither his firearm or bones have turned up. It is certainly strange that no trace has ever been found and it does raise suspicions that he was intentionally removed from the area or disappeared of his own accord.