PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KETK) It’s been almost a decade and law enforcement officials say they’re still not any closer to solving what happened to a Carthage woman.
Carthage native, Doris Mims McIntosh has been missing since July of 2009.
Her granddaughter describes her as a caring, Godly woman.
On the night of July 24, 2009, McIntosh was driving home after visiting her husband in the hospital in Carthage. Though being a local, she stopped to ask for directions at a home in Del Ray, which is several miles outside of town and away from her home.
After spending about 30 minutes at the home and receiving directions, she left.
But when she turned the opposite way she was told to, the homeowner called Carthage Police, saying she was lost and seemed confused and disoriented.
Carthage PD never made contact with her. It was the last time she was seen and the next day her granddaughter reported her missing.
“I panicked because she always stuck by my grandfather. She was with him all the time.”Brandi Howard, granddaughter of Mrs. McIntosh
The Sheriff of Panola County said they immediately began chasing down leads and following the timeline of when she left the hospital around the evening time and ended up knocking on the homeowner’s door for directions at 1 a.m.
Investigators found surveillance video from a Carthage gas station which shows her pulling up to the pump several times before aligning her SUV. The video proceeds to show her paying for the fuel and driving away, no indication that she was distressed.
It was not until four days later, on July 29, that someone reported seeing an abandoned vehicle near an oil and gas drilling site in a remote area.
The vehicle came back as McIntosh’s and appeared to be stuck in the mud off County Road 173 located several miles away from her home.
It was unlocked and the seat was pushed up to the wheel as though to fit her height, but the heater was on and the keys and purse were gone.
“At the time we thought maybe she took the keys and her purse after she was stuck and tried to walk out for help. At this point we’re not sure that’s actually what happened,” said Kevin Lake, Sheriff of Panola County.
Sheriff Lake said the car was checked for evidence and a huge search mission began. More than 200 volunteers and professionals tracked through miles of fields and forests using helicopters, radars and dive teams. Each day the search was widened, but not one clue was found.
“It could be anything from she did get stuck and walked out. Somebody abducted her after that. It could be she was taken against her will before and the vehicle was dumped there. There’s just so many things that could have happened. We thought that someone walking out over a mile on a gravel lease road in the dark, possible in the rain, that we would find a piece of clothing, a shoe, something to give us an idea that she did walk out,” Sheriff Lake said.
Sheriff Lake said they’ve gone back and researched the area many times over the years along with bringing in different kinds of experts including animal trackers.
“That’s probably the hardest part of the last eight years is that I know she’s gone. In my heart I know she’s on to bigger and better things, but I miss her terribly,” Howard said.
Howard now owns a downtown business and said her grandmother doesn’t stray far from her mind.
“My grandmother was the most wonderful woman. So caring and loving. One of the things I’ll miss the most is her cooking. My grandparents were wonderful to me my whole life,” Howard said.
Howard said the night her grandmother seemed disoriented or confused could be attributed to her having undiagnosed Alzheimer’s‘s disease. Or Howard believes she may have been under so much stress because of her grandfather’s declining health that she could not think straight.
“She needed help that night,” Howard said.
Since her grandmother’s disappearance, her grandfather has passed away, along with her brother and her parents now live in assisted living. As the only one left of her family she struggles not knowing what happened, but said she tries to remember her grandparents as the happy couple they were.
She’s grateful they got to experience their 50th wedding anniversary together.
They ask if anyone has any information on this case to please contact the Panola County Sheriff’s Office. There is a $2,000 reward still in place.