BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office is asking for any information about a man who went missing from the Cainhoy community five years ago.
Willie Toomer was last seen after church on May 14th, 2017 – at the time, authorities said Toomer, who has special needs, was often observed walking the roads near his home, taking small steps while dragging his feet.
Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said during a Tuesday morning press conference that they had been receiving updates up until a month ago. Now, they are again calling on the community to offer any information regarding Toomer’s disappearance.
“A man like Willie Toomer doesn’t just disappear,” said Sheriff Lewis. “With the holiday season coming up we are hoping that someone will come forward and give us some information.”
He said the case had not gone cold and that it was actively being investigated.
“We are here to ask the public if anyone has information about where Willie Toomer is. We need help from the public to solve this case for the family,” he said.
Toomer is described as an African-American man, standing at 6’0 and weighing about 160 pounds.
Toomer’s family members also spoke at the press conference along with Detective Kimber Gist, the lead detective on the case.
“He was quiet, kind and he kept to himself,” said Darlene Taylor-Williams, Toomer’s niece. “He had his friends.”
“It was on Mother’s Day of 2017 when Toomer, as he did each week, went to church and a friend drove him down the street to his home after church. The next day, an insurance agent called Darlene’s mom, Dot Scott, to say he wasn’t home when he stopped by to see him, which was odd because Toomer is known as a person of habit. He had his routines and when he stepped out of that routine, everybody knew something was wrong,” she explained.
Taylor-Williams said Toomer wasn’t under a tree where he normally spends time. “That was where everybody knew that something’s wrong.”
The sheriff’s office began searching. Surrounding woods were searched extensively, helicopters, ATVs, K-9 units, even horses were used. Investigators said the nearby French Quarter Creek was even searched underwater by divers.
Sheriff Lewis said they are putting more signs out regarding Toomer’s disappearance and asking for anyone who knows more to contact them.
“He would not go off with anyone that he did not know,” said Sheriff Lewis. “So when he left his home, we believe he left with someone he knew or at least was familiar with.”
It’s one reason they believe whoever did something to Toomer was not a stranger.
“It tends to lead us to believe it’s someone here in this community in general. I’m speaking generally about you know, the whole area here at Cainhoy and Huger area,” he said.
Anyone who may have information about Toomer’s disappearance should contact the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry at 843-554-1111.