Abandoned truck sparks massive search in North Coweta
By JOHN A. WINTERS
A Heritage School student missing since Wednesday night was found safe Thursday afternoon miles from where his abandoned truck was discovered.
Grayson Barrett Parker was the subject of an intensive search that at one point involved scores of friends and family, K-9 units, rescue personnel and a helicopter.
Parker told a man there, Jerry Williamson, that he had been kidnapped, the major said. Williamson then called Coweta 911 at 12:15 p.m.
“He was not kidnapped,” Yarbrough said. “He is cooperating, and we are still gathering information.” Investigators were piecing together exactly how Parker got from where he left his truck to Moreland.
“We are still working on that ... and checking to see if anyone helped him,” the major said, adding no criminal charges have been filed. Parker also did not appear to have any injuries, other than a superficial cut on his head.
Parker was taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital by ground ambulance shortly after deputies arrived at the residence on Bethlehem Church Road.
Parker was last seen about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday leaving Frazier’s convenience store, located at U.S. 29 North and Edgeworth Road. His Ford pickup truck was found by friends about a mile from the store by the side of the road on Happy Valley Circle, near the entrance to Lake Redwine Plantation subdivision. Sheriff’s deputies were called out a little after 1 a.m. Thursday.
According to Investigator Warren Campbell with the sheriff’s office, Parker’s iPhone was in a charger in the truck. His wallet was in the back seat and a credit card and insurance card were on the floor of the front seat. He had purchased a bottle of water and an energy drink at the convenience store.
Based on that evidence, Campbell said earlier Thursday “there is no indication of any foul play at this time.”
Later in the day, just before noon on Thursday, search teams consisting of a sheriff’s deputy and a Coweta County Fire Department firefighter were being formed. They were to coordinate and lead teams of volunteers to conduct a more thorough grid pattern search.
More than 100 volunteers had gathered at the nearby Madras Middle School to help find Parker.
From where Parker’s truck was left, it would be a short walk through a field and wooded area to get to his house on Lake Coweta Circle. Sheriff’s deputies impounded the truck and took it away early Thursday.
Authorities said Parker had not been feeling well lately and was “lethargic.” The search started from the truck based on the assumption he might have gotten disoriented and tried to walk home through the woods.
As the search teams were being formed, authorities learned Parker had been located in Moreland.
A command center, including the county’s new Haz-Mat truck that has a powerful telescopic camera, was set up on Happy Valley Road early Thursday, blocking traffic both ways on that road. Rescue personnel, as well as friends and family, watched surveillance tapes showing Parker at the convenience store on a large monitor outside the Haz-Mat truck.
Friends and family were alerted to Parker’s disappearance through phone calls and social media sites like Facebook. Dozens had already gathered early Thursday morning at the command center. Each walked up to law enforcement officers with a simple “How can I help?”
Thursday morning, the sheriff’s office put up a BOLO (Be On The Lookout) on Parker, including a photo and physical description, on its Facebook page.
Within three hours, 915 people had viewed the page and 222 had shared the link with others.
Afterward the sheriff’s office wrote on its Facebook wall: “CCSO wants to thank everyone that helped spread the word and volunteered to help search for Grayson Parker. He has been located and is safe.”
Parker is entering the 12th grade at Heritage School, where he is a football player. He is an Eagle Scout from Troop 47.