Details of Disappearance
Roland was last seen during a fishing trip in Powell Park on Lake Sam Rayburn, Texas on July 21, 1997. He was driving his gray 1996 Chevrolet 271 extended cab pickup truck with the Texas license plate number RE6006 at the time. The vehicle had a large orange ladder marked JOC for JO Cheatham Contractors Inc. placed in the back; Roland was vice president of the company in 1997.
He was also traveling with a white 1994 Lowe pontoon boat with a blue stripe and metal top and trailer with the boat number TX9619HL. He has never been heard from again. His family members said it is uncharacteristic of him to leave without warning.
Roland's truck was discovered abandoned in a dense pine tree thicket about one week after his disappearance. The vehicle was located one-half mile off of Neal Road near FM 844 in Shawnee Prairie, Texas, approximately 30 miles from Roland's camp in Powell Park.
The cab had been completely destroyed by fire. A burned rifle was found underneath the back seat of the truck and an ice chest was located in the vehicle's bed. Roland's company ladder and cellular phone were both missing, but it is possible the phone was destroyed by the flames.
The people who located the truck just days after Roland vanished did not report their find to authorities until the end of the week, as they did not initially notice the cab had been burned.
Tools that Roland carried in the back of his truck were discovered in the same area as his vehicle shortly afterwards. Authorities said that it appeared the tools had been placed at the scene after their initial search ended, as the terrain had been thoroughly covered and no sign of the tools was found earlier in the week. They had not been damaged by the fire inside the vehicle.
Roland's boat trailer was located in August 1997, one month after his disappearance. The trailer was found in a wooded area four miles south of Broaddus, Texas off of State Highway 147. The area was approximately 20 miles from Powell Park. The pontoon boat was located in October 1997 in a narrow cove off of the Harvey Creek recreational area, which is near the end of FM 2390 in San Augustine County, Texas.
The boat's top was missing at the time of discovery. According to law enforcement, the boat had been carefully placed under a tree, and there were holes in the pontoons from either bullets or large-caliber shotgun pellets. The boat's awning was recovered by divers in Lake Sam Rayburn near the location of the boat itself in January 1998.
Roland's case remains open and unsolved. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance.