The mother of a 28-year-old man with a mental health condition who has been missing for more than a year made an emotional plea Thursday for help in finding her son “whether he’s living or not.”
Police suspect foul play in the disappearance of Julius O’Neal Owens, who has been missing since Nov. 7, 2012, said Cpl. Justin Samples, the Statesboro Police Department spokesman.
“That’s the reason why I asked the police department if they could get it out there, let them know, it hurts,” said Owens’ mother, Vera Owens, her voice breaking, during a brief news conference at the police station. “If somebody has a conscience, a heart, whether he’s living or not — whatever it is, if you see this, just think about it. That’s somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s uncle, somebody’s grandson, somebody’s cousin. He’s a part of us, and no mother would want to go through this.”
Julius Owens was first reported missing after his family had no contact with him for two days. His mother told police she was unable to locate him at his home or any of the places he was known to frequent.
His vehicle was found Nov. 8, 2012, at what was then called The Pointe at Southern, now known as Campus Evolution Villages, 1699 Statesboro Place Circle. Statesboro police officers, detectives and administration, as well as Bulloch County sheriff’s deputies and Georgia Southern University Police, immediately responded and searched the entire area of and around the apartment complex.
Statesboro police officers went door to door with his photograph asking residents there and at nearby complexes if they could provide any information concerning his whereabouts.
In August, police said because of how long he had been missing by then, as well as evidence found during the investigation, they suspected foul play.
“There was evidence in the vehicle that we’re not going to release at this time, but the evidence does suggest that foul play may have been involved,” Samples said Thursday.
On Thursday, Vera Owens described her last conversation with her son. It was about his next regular payment to his brother for a truck.
“I was telling him that the payment was due; it was an arrangement between them,” said Owens, who brought Julius Owens’ two daughters – Nivia Owens, 8, and Nyla Owens, 6 – to the news conference. “We talked that Monday (Nov. 5, 2012). He actually came over to my apartment. I told him I had needed to talk with him, and me and him sat down and talked on that Monday. And then that Tuesday, I didn’t hear from him.”
Before Owens started describing what her son is like, Nyla piped up, “He is nice.”
Vera Owens said Julius, her oldest son, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but he had responded well to treatment and medication. After living with her for some time, he was able to get a place of his own.
It wasn’t like him not to call his mother, not answer her call or not call her back quickly.
“He did like a routine every day,” she said. “He would call me, he would visit his youngest brother. And after I didn’t receive a call back from him, I felt like something was wrong.”
That Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, Vera Owens called her son three times and never reached him, nor heard back from him.
“Actually, that Saturday, they (Julius Owens and his daughters) were supposed to have gone to the movies. And on the weekend, he would either take them to the movies or The Clubhouse, some type of activity,” she said. “I don’t believe that he would’ve been gone this long from his daughters if he could help it.”
Anyone with information concerning this case is asked to contact Detective Sgt. James Winskey at the Statesboro Police Department at (912) 764-9911. Anonymous tips may be submitted online at www.tipsoft.com or by sending a text message beginning with “TIPSSPD” to 274637 (CRIMES). All information is strictly confidential.
“We don’t know what happened, we just don’t know what happened,” Vera Owens said. “But it is an emptiness in me because when you have someone, a family member that you don’t – you see it all the time. I look at the news, you see it, you read it. But you don’t think it’ll come this close. But when it does, it’s like an empty spot because I don’t know. I just really don’t know.”
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.