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.