Authorities ended the search of a wooded area for a missing teen Wednesday after cadaver-sniffing dogs came up empty.
Sam Poss, 18, was last seen about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when he began walking home from a friend’s house barefoot.
Three dogs trained to sniff out a body searched the area along Frank Satterfield Road and Tucker Road for about three hours Wednesday, starting at 9:30 a.m. The handlers of the dogs, part of the Georgia Body Recovery Team, said afterward that they were confident there’s no body in the area.
One of the handlers, Brigitte Basey, said the dogs can detect the odor of a body even if it has been moved.
“We had no indication whatsoever,” she said.
After the dog search ended, the command post at Ochlahatchee Ball Park closed down.
Perry police Capt. Heath Dykes said the search for Poss will now focus on pursuing leads that come up and interviewing any potential witnesses. Authorities will no longer be searching the wooded area, but he said family and friends may still choose to do so.
Before the dog search Wednesday, police and others, including a Georgia State Patrol helicopter, extensively searched the area where Poss would have walked home.
“At this point in time we feel like we’ve exhausted this area as far as the search goes and feel that Sam is not in the woods over here,” Dykes said.
Just down the road from the command post, Poss’ father, Christian, and his mother, Nicole, along with friends and family, were set up under a canopy outside the Poss home. They were there to hand out fliers to anyone who stopped.
Christian Poss said he is OK with the search of the area coming to an end.
“We’re pretty sure he’s not out there,” he said. “The police and the search-and-rescue folks have done a very good and exhaustive search of the whole area.”
Poss said he has taken off from his job and will maintain the vigil in front of his house for as long as it takes to find his son. He and Nicole both said there is no chance their son would have chosen to go off somewhere and not tell them.
But they both said they are not giving up hope for a positive outcome.
“That’s all I can do is hope there is a good ending,” Christian Poss said. “If I give in to despair, it’s just a downward slope from there.”
Sam Poss graduated from high school this past spring and was planning to enlist in the Navy.
Christian Poss said he did not realize his son was missing until Sunday afternoon, when they had planned to go to the fair together. He said he had returned home about 2 a.m. Saturday and his son was not home at that time.
He did not think anything of it, he said, because it was not unusual for Sam to stay over at a friend’s house. He does not believe Sam came in later that night because he would have heard his dogs barking. He then went to Atlanta on Saturday and returned Sunday.
So although it’s possible that Sam made it home Saturday and something happened later, Christian Poss does not think that happened. He also noted that a friend had left messages on his son’s computer that were not answered.
Sam’s cellphone was also left at home, and there was no sign from the phone that he ever returned home. Dykes also said no numbers called on the phone earlier that day indicated anything unusual. Dykes said Sam’s computer is still being examined for any clues.
“We haven’t found anything that was suspicious in any kind of nature,” Dykes said.
They are continuing to search abandoned buildings and pursue other leads, including any security cameras that may have captured Sam walking that night. So far nothing has been found to shed any light on what happened, Dykes said.
Christian Poss said the family appreciates the outpouring of support from the community. That’s why they are maintaining their vigil in front of his home, to give people a place to come and get fliers.
“The community has been amazing,” he said. “Everyone has been super supportive. People want to do stuff, but unfortunately there’s not a lot we can do, so we are letting them just get the word out.”