Details of Disappearance
Patterson was last seen in Church Hill, Tennessee on July 15, 1986. The next day, his slate blue 1972 Camaro was found wrecked on Goshen Valley Road just south of the Holston River bridge, two miles from Patterson's home. It had been traveling south when it ran off the road, hit a ditch, rolled over and finally came to rest on its wheels.
After the accident, the driver had driven the car into a field trying to leave the accident scene, but the Camaro got stuck on a fence. There was no blood or other signs of injury present, but Patterson's wallet and some other belongings were scattered on the ground nearby. There was no sign of him and he has never been heard from again.
Patterson is described as a wanderer who frequently hitchhiked or walked long distances, but he did keep in touch with his family. At first authorities believed he might have sustained a head injury in the crash and developed amnesia, but as time passed without his being located they began to consider other theories.
Since his disappearance, one of the suspects in his case has died and another is serving a lengthy term in federal prison for drug and weapons offenses. Foul play is suspected in Patterson's disappearance, which remains unsolved.