Details of Disappearance Owens was last seen in Nashville, Tennessee on July 22, 1985. He was supposed to pick up his wife at the bus station at 6:00 a.m., when she returned from a trip to Ohio to see relatives. He never arrived there. After waiting at the bus station for an hour, his wife assumed he must have overslept and called her brother-in-law to ask for a ride home.
When his wife went to their house at 11:00 a.m., Owens was missing and so was his car. There were two place settings on the table from the previous night's dinner. Owens's black hat, which he had worn every day since his wife had purchased it a month earlier, was in its usual spot, and their dog was hungry. Only one set of clothes, an old black suit Owens wore around the house, was missing.
After Owens was reported missing, a local television station aired a bulletin on his disappearance. Several people from other parts of Tennessee recognized his picture. He was sighted 80 miles away from Nashville, along Route 13, between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. This was hours after he was supposed to pick up his wife. He stopped at a service station in Santa Fe, Tennessee to have a flat tire repaired. He paid for a new tire in cash and asked for directions to Nolensville, Tennessee. The station employee misunderstood and directed Owens to Lobelville, Tennessee, which was in the opposite direction.
That afternoon, Owens was seen at a convenience store in Lobelville. He bought ice cream and cigars there. He seemed disoriented at the time and told the store clerk he could not find his wife. The clerk called a local clinic to ask if his wife was there, but she wasn't and Owens left the store and was never seen again.
Owens has never been heard from again. Six days after his disappearance, his 1972 Dodge Dart was found on a remote hilltop in Perry County, Tennessee, more than a hundred miles from his home, and twelve miles from the Lobelville convenience store. The keys were in the ignition, the driver's side window was open and the car battery was dead.
Owens's cane was propped against the car. There were piles of brush and tree limbs in and around the car and a pack of matches was left on the dash, as if someone had planned to start a campfire. Owen's black suit jacket was in the backseat on top of one of the woodpiles. There was no indication of Owens's whereabouts and no signs of a struggle or foul play. His wife stated it would be uncharacteristic of him to abandon his car and that he never walked long distances without taking his cane.
A witness reported seeing the Dodge Dart driving up the dirt road where it was later found. A truck was following along behind it. A short time later, the truck returned down the road, without the Dodge Dart.
Owens, a retired custodian from a disinfectant company, had been an associate minister of the New Hope Baptist Church in Nashville for over twenty years prior to his disappearance. He always attended Sunday services, and had been married for over sixty years; his wife described their relationship as good. Owens's wife died in 1989. His case remains unsolved.
- Perry County Sheriffs Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated July 18, 2020; picture added, clothing/jewelry description and details of disappearance updated.