Police search remote area for missing man
by James Phillips
Jun 07, 2012 | 6227 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Members of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper Police Department and Sumiton Police Department executed a search warrant Wednesday at this home on Stacks Bottom Road in Empire. Photo by: James Phillips
Members of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper Police Department and Sumiton Police Department executed a search warrant Wednesday at this home on Stacks Bottom Road in Empire. Photo by: James Phillips
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EMPIRE — Area police, with the help of a cadaver dog team from the Huntsville area, spent most of the day Wednesday searching a remote area of Walker County for the body of a man who has been missing since 2009.

Corey Nolan Smith, 26, of 189 Drummond Switch Cut-Off Road in Empire, was last seen in June 2009. Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said new information led investigators to believe evidence in Smith’s disappearance could be found at or around a residence on Stacks Bottom Road in Empire.

“This is an ongoing case that we want to see resolved,” Tirey said.

Ralph Williams, lead investigator in the case, said the home that was searched Wednesday belonged to David Rhodes, an Empire man currently being held in the Sumiton City Jail on methamphetamine manufacturing charges. Police also searched adjoining property, including sending cameras down several wells.

Tirey did not single out Rhodes as a person of interest in the disappearance, but said, “there are several persons of interest in this case.”

Sartech K-9 Unit, a cadaver dog team based in Harvest, assisted in Wednesday’s search. Seven members of the group and five dogs participated, and Williams said the dogs hit on certain spots on the property.

“We were able to obtain evidence from areas where they detected something,” Williams said.

Police found bones during their search of the property, but Williams said the remains would have to be sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to determine if they were from a human.

Investigators also used video equipment to search two abandoned wells located just off Stacks Bottom Road. Darrell Mote, a sheriff’s office investigator, said nothing was found inside the wells.

The search Wednesday was a joint effort between the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the Sumiton Police Department and the Jasper Police Department. Williams said the cooperation between the groups will be key to solving this case.

“Sumiton and Jasper police provided a lot of help,” Williams said. “Sumiton Police Department has spent a lot of time on this case. They’ve worked very hard. Jasper Chief Connie Rowe let two of her investigators come out here today. Myself and the sheriff’s office appreciate the help.”

Williams said the investigation into Smith’s disappearance is still ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts should contact the Walker County Sheriff’s Office at 205-302-6464.

In May, Gov. Robert Bentley announced a $5,000 reward had been offered to anyone who gives information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for this disappearance.

Smith’s description at the time of his disappearance listed him as 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

“We appreciate the help we’ve received to this point, but we are continuing to ask the public to come forward if they know anything about this,” Williams said.