Search continues for missing Unicoi restaurant owner; sheriff renews request for public's assistance

Sue Guinn Legg • Nov 8, 2019 at 9:00 PM

UNICOI — More than a week after Unicoi restaurant owner Lucas Vance mysteriously went missing from his Marbleton Road home, Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley on Friday said the investigation is still “very active and will continue until he is found.”

“We will not stop,” Hensley said. “We are following every lead we have. He’s on the NCIC (National Crime Information) computer. Billboards are up all over. Fliers are out. We’re still searching.”

Asked if the search is being handled as a criminal investigation, Hensley said, “It’s just a search. We have no reason to believe there is foul play.”

Hensley said investigators have followed every lead submitted by members of the public, but at this time have nothing definitive to report.

“Without going into details, I can say we have not found anything that would lead us to believe there was foul play, at this time.”

“The TBI is assisting us. I asked them to assist us because they’ve got resources we don’t have and the more people we have involved the better,” Hensley said. “We have spent many hours talking to people. We have interviewed people. The TBI has interviewed people. And we have found nothing to cause us to believe there was foul play, at this time.”

While authorities called off their ground search for Vance on Saturday, Nov. 2, until new information develops, friends and neighbors are continuing to search the mountainous area near Vance’s home.

“I appreciate the support of all the volunteers, the church, Marbleton Freewill Baptist where we had our command center, the pastor, people who brought food, citizens and neighbors who looked and are still looking, and the people who prayed for the family,” Hensley said.

“I appreciate everyone’s help and their prayers and ask that they continue to pray for us and the family.”

Hensley repeated the request for anyone with any information that may help in the investigation to call the Sheriff’s Department at 423-743-1850.