ROCKINGHAM — It’s been more than two years since Alvin Covington was last seen at his Cartledge Creek home, but investigators haven’t given up the search.
Covington, who was 56 at the time of his disappearance and suffers from early stages of dementia, went missing Sept. 25, 2015, according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. However, his absence wasn’t reported until Oct. 6 of that year.
Deputies say Covington’s family waited to file an official report because he had gone missing before. In 2014, he was gone for 20 days and later found in Lee County.
Detectives David Wall and Mitchell Watson have been working the case ever since, but to no avail.
“There have been no credible leads as to his whereabouts since the date of his disappearance,” Wall told the Daily Journal on Thursday.
Covington’s last possible sighting at the Food Lion on U.S. 1, wearing a blue shirt, blue jeans and dark-colored hat. Detective Capt. Jay Childers said last year that there were also reports of Covington being seen in the Little Philadelphia community and areas of Cartledge Creek Road and Northside Drive, but those sightings couldn’t be validated.
Deputies say Covington’s cellphone last pinged off the tower on Northam Road.
“The sheriff’s office has put a lot of effort and time into locating him,” Wall said. “The length of time doesn’t matter,” he added, they just want to find him.
The March following Covington’s disappearance, more than 80 people from 21 public and private agencies joined together in a massive search.
A total of 17 search grids were established, covering roughly 6½ square miles: 10 on the west side of the highway, south of Harrington Road and mostly east of Cartledge Creek Road, where Covington lived; and seven on the east side of U.S. 220, south of Northside Drive, where he had friends.
During the search, a woman living on Stelley Tabernacle Church Road told Hamlet Fire Chief Calvin White that she had smelled a rotting odor behind her home and led him to a bone. White and Hamlet Police Chief Scott Waters later found a blue shirt nearby.
“It could’ve been his, you never know,” White said after finding it. “It could have been just a shirt.”
A cadaver dog was brought to the site of the shirt and sniffed around, but didn’t go very far.
Childers later said all possible clues found that day, including the bone and the shirt, were ruled out.
The following day, a crew from Lee County brought sonar equipment to search nearby ponds and the N.C. State Highway Patrol searched by air.
“We truly appreciate the assistance of all the other agencies,” Wall said.
The sheriff’s office is seeking the public’s help in exploring other avenues to locate Covington and verify his safety. Wall said they are still “hopeful for a positive outcome.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 910-997-8283.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.