A Jacksonville family is lifting up their voices in prayer as they gather at 5 p.m. Saturday in front of the Jacksonville Police Department, 210 W. Larissa St., at a prayer rally for the missing Tyress Gipson.
“We want to show them we're not giving up,” said Lavance Hill Wooten, mother of the 18-year-old Gipson who was reported missing Aug. 23.
In late August, three adults from Palestine, along with a 16-year-old juvenile, were arrested in connection with the aggravated kidnapping of Gipson. His mother said the last time she saw him was Aug. 22 at home.
“He was in the bathroom, brushing his hair,” she recalled, adding that her son was very athletic, involved with football and basketball while as student at Jacksonville High School.
“He's just a goofy child, the life of the party, literally – he never hesitated to put a smile on people's faces,” she said. “It's been so quiet without him. On Saturday, it will be (approximately) 30 days since my child has been missing.”
During this time, several search parties have met in Palestine, hoping to find Gipson, who was last believed to be in that city. Prayer vigils have also been held for the young man.
An vigil at Jacksonville's Lincoln Park drew more than 100 people, while a “light up the sky” event at the family home drew approximately 50 to 60 people, she said.
“There were cars lined up and down the street on our block – it was beautiful, and it had me crying to see the community pull together, because my son means a lot to me,” she said.
Wooten said her son is supported and everybody wants answers. She said these vigils and searches show the community, the police department, that a lot of people behind her son.
In the meantime, Wooten said she and her family will continue to rely on their faith to guide them through the devastation and uncertainty left in the wake of Gipson's disappearance.
“God is going to do something great in this situation, so we're gonna wait and see; we're gonna be prayerful and watchful,” she said. “As a family, we really, truly, appreciate all the prayers, all the love shown to us in visits and phone calls.”
“We want Tyress to know that we miss him dearly, we love him, we're not gonna stop looking or praying for him,” Wooten said.