Houston & Peach

Missing Fort Valley State student’s mom offers $1,000 reward for his safe return

Keyon Harris
Keyon Harris

An Augusta mom is frantic about the welfare of her son, an 18-year-old Fort Valley State University student who she says is missing.

Kishona Smith posted on Facebook Tuesday night that she’s offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of her son, Keyon Montreal La’trey Harris.

“We love him and just want him home safe,” Smith said in the post, which already had been shared more than 1,000 times by Wednesday afternoon.

Smith told The Telegraph she last talked with Harris, a freshman studying psychology, on Sunday. They were “joking and jiving because he’s a big goof,” she said. They’d also texted back and forth later Sunday.

But then, there was no more communication, which was unusual, Smith said. She said she generally hears from her son at least four times day.

Tuesday, Smith said she reported her son missing to campus police, traveling from Augusta to Fort Valley. She said she first called campus police that morning and asked them to conduct a welfare check but was told to come in person.

Campus police first checked to see if Harris attended his first class, which he had not, Smith said. She said she then went with police to Harris’ dorm room, where they found his clothes and TV missing. But her son’s iPhone, credit cards and student ID were still in the room.

Harris’ three roommates told police they last saw Harris on Sunday and reported to dorm officials that Harris had moved out, Smith said.

Video from a campus security camera showed Harris coming into the dorm shortly before 3:30 a.m. Sunday but never showed him leaving, his mother said.

Campus police Chief Ken Morgan referred comment to the university’s marketing and communication’s office.

Cedric Mobley, special assistant to the president for strategic communication, said he could not discuss what campus police are doing in response to the mother’s concerns “out of respect of the privacy of the student.”

“Obviously, she alluded to it herself, we’re certainly taking the concerns of the mother seriously, but we have not opened a criminal investigation and we also have not contacted the Fort Valley (police),” Mobley said.

Smith said she is convinced something has happened to her son.

Smith’s sister, Sharie Harris, has been texting with an unidentified man who offered to send Harris home if she sent him $900 to $1,300. Smith emailed screen grabs of the texts with the Lakewood, Ohio, phone number to campus police and to The Telegraph. A man on the voicemail message identified himself as “Mr. Ray.”

Also, a high school friend of Harris reached out to him on Snapchat, a social media app, encouraging him to contact his family, Smith said. A reply, which Smith said she believes was from her son because only he would have the password, assured that he was OK. The Snapchat location placed him in Franklin, Ohio. That was early Wednesday morning.

Smith thinks her son met somebody through an app.

“I think he met somebody, and now he’s in a bad situation,” Smith said.

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser

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