Friday, September 23, 2011

Brian "Neil" Hooks

FLORENCE, S.C.  (Reprinted from SC NOW)

It’s been 23 years since Amy Turner last saw her brother Brian “Neil” Hooks, but she remembers it as if it were yesterday.

“He came by Mama and Daddy’s and said they (Hooks and his live-in lover) were going to the beach for the weekend. He said he’d called us when he got back. That’s the last time we ever spoke to him or sawhim,” Turner said, fighting back tears.

That was in September 1988. Hooks was 21. He has never been seen or heard from again.

Turner said her family became concerned when Hooks didn’t call the next week. Turner called her brother’s house and asked to speak to him, but a roommate said there was nobody by the name of Neil at the residence and hung up on her. She called back, and asked to speak to Hooks’ boyfriend. She said he told her Hooks had “run off” without telling anybody where he was going.

“We knew right then something was wrong,” Turner said. “Neil didn’t stay away from our mama. I don’t care where he was going, he’d have found a way to call her. Even if he didn’t get in touch with anybody else, he’d have got in touch with Mama.”

Turner and her family members immediately went to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and filed a missing persons report. Then sheriff’s investigator Jerry Coker worked the case until the leads went cold but was never able to locate Hooks. But he suspected foul play from the beginning and even identified a person of interest in the case.

Still, with no evidence, the case eventually fell to the wayside.

That was until earlier this year when Turner’s father died.

“Before our father passed away, I made a promise to him that I would do everything I could (to find Hooks and bring her family closure),” Turner said, “and I’m not breaking that promise.”

Turner contacted the sheriff’s office to see if they would consider taking another look at the case. FlorenceCounty Sheriff Kenney Boone assigned the case to Lt. Glen Kirby, who has been working it diligently ever since.

“We’ve interviewed some people and developed some new leads,” Kirby said.

“We’ve actually been talking to a lot of people from Virginia on down -- a few who were in jail at one point with the person of interest in this case,” he said. “We’re also checking some locations that we believe could hold evidence connected to this case. It’s been over 20 years, but we’re not giving up on this. We want to bring closure to this family. They deserve closure.”

About eight years ago, sheriff’s investigators received information indicating Hooks’ remains may be buried in an area near Willow Creek Road, which is where Hooks last lived. Investigators searched and excavated the area but to no avail, Kirby said.

Turner said she and her family have come to terms with the fact that Hooks is probably dead. But even so, she said they want closure.

“This has been really, really hard, not knowing anything all these years,” Turner said. “We want his remains. We want to give him a proper burial and have a place where we can go and talk to him and feel close to him. We want him home.”

Anyone with information on Hooks’ disappearance or any other cold case the sheriff’s office is handling is asked to call Kirby at (843) 665-2121, ext. 489. Callers need not reveal their names.

More information about the case:

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