Harold Jeffrey Mays

Mays, circa 1980; Sea Ox fishing boat

  • Missing Since 11/13/1980
  • Missing From Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
  • Classification Lost/Injured Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 07/18/1959 (64)
  • Age 21 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'10, 175 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description Layered clothing and foul-weather fishing gear. No jewelry.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) 23-foot inboard-outboard Sea-Ox commercial fishing boat with a fiberglass center console, black outriggers, beige sides and a 280-horsepower Volvo engine. The boat's registration number was NC9304 AK and the manufacturer's number was XNA30250M79J.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Mays goes by his middle name, Jeffrey, or the nickname Jeff, and some agencies refer to him as Jeffrey Mays.

Details of Disappearance

Mays was last seen sixteen miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina at 1:30 p.m. on November 13, 1980. He was with a companion, Ted Wall, a close friend and fellow commercial fisherman. Another fisherman stated he helped Mays and Wall repair and restart their 280-horsepower Volvo engine. They have never been heard from again.

The men went out in the ocean in Mays's 23-foot inboard-outboard Sea-Ox commercial fishing boat. A photo of a similar boat is posted below this case summary. This type of boat is very difficult to sink; it has foam flotation that would keep it just beneath the surface, even if it's swamped. It has a fiberglass center console, black outriggers and beige sides. Mays and Wall's vessel's registration number was NC9304 AK and the manufacturer's number was XNA30250M79J.

The search for the men began at 9:00 p.m. and lasted for two weeks. No sign of either the boat or the missing men was ever found, in spite of an extensive search by the Coast Guard covering 104,000 square miles of ocean.

Mays graduated from Ligonier High School in 1977 and attended East Carolina University in Greenville, but he quit before graduation and went to work for his father's fishing business, Nunemakers Retail.  Both his best friend and his family agree that the men's disappearances were most likely drug-related; fishermen often sold drugs in the winter when business was slack. No one has been charged in their cases, however.

Mays's mother self-published a book about her son's disappearance, titled Outer Banks Piracy: Where is My Son Jeffrey? She and his best friend believe he may be alive and in Alaska.

Investigating Agency

  • United States Coast Guard 252-441-0300

Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated July 19, 2018; details of disappearance updated.