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Son hoping for safe return in July 2022 disappearance of South Carolina woman Ruth Jenkins 

The 76-year-old was last seen waking in Pineville, South Carolina.

“We are still waiting on her to come home,” Robert Jenkins Jr. told Dateline.

Robert’s mother, Ruth Jenkins, has been missing for a year and a half. The 76-year-old was last seen on July 16, 2022.

Robert told Dateline that their family is from Pineville, South Carolina. “Pineville is a very slow” and quiet town, he said.

The slow pace didn’t stop Ruth from making life interesting for her children. “We had this family thing that we would do,” Robert remembered. “We [would] all do impromptu, funny type of songs with makeshift instruments, you know, like pencils and books and stuff. We were just very spontaneous like that.”

Robert, who’s the eldest of five, told Dateline his mother is very loving. “She’s very outgoing, very funny, she has a lot of humor,” he said. “Very Christian, God-fearing woman.”

Kyani Reid
Ruth's children: Rastrado, Robert, Raclaydran, Radrego, and Shelene.Robert Jenkins

Robert said he last spoke to his mother on July 15, 2022. He and his wife had flown from Texas, where they live, to visit Ruth. Ruth lives with one of her sons, Rastrado, who was out of town that weekend.

“I had made a trip there just to check on her,” Robert said, adding that his mother needed help with her finances. “So I went there with a plan, you know, check on her finances and just get her checked out and everything like that.”

Robert said that he learned during that trip that his mother had been suffering from dementia. “That kind of explained some of the things that she did,” he said. “Some of the repetitiveness, the memory… with different things.”

Robert said that on Friday, July 15, he was helping his mother set up medications at her house, when her dog accidentally ran out of the home. “She had realized that the dog had got out and, like, ran away,” he said. “She was bothered by that. She was pretty upset… so that evening is how this event started.”

Kyani Reid
Ruth Jenkins.Robert Jenkins

“My brother had called me and let me know that my mother, being so concerned, she had driven to herself to the next town called Monck’s Corner,” Robert said. “Apparently she went to check, like, shelters or something like that.”

Robert told Dateline that his mother eventually ended up at Walmart. “But when she came back out, she couldn’t access her car,” he said. "Turns out, there was another car that is identically the same car as her car.”

A family member then went to pick up Ruth at the Walmart, took her car keys, and brought her home. “The 16th  -- that morning -- she got up looking for her keys,” Robert said. “She started on her regular walking route… during that route, she met some of the people in the community and she asked for them to, like, ‘Hey, could you, uh, could you help me? Could you pray with me so I can help find my keys?'”

Robert told Dateline that a neighbor’s Ring camera captured his mother walking around 11 a.m. He said Ruth asked the neighbor if they had found her keys, as well. “The person was talking to my mother through the Ring camera letting her, you know, ‘I don’t have your keys, ma’am.’”

Then Ruth walked inside a different neighbor’s house. “They were startled that she was in the house. And that, uh, seemed very unlike her, because my mother just wouldn’t go into somebody’s house. So I imagine that was maybe the panic and the dementia,” Robert said. “All I know is that she wound up leaving there and that’s when they didn’t see her again.”

In fact, that was the last time Ruth was seen at all.

Kyani Reid
Ruth JenkinsRobert Jenkins

Robert and his wife had been staying in Charleston while they were visiting and were at lunch when he got a call from Rastrado telling him that he believed their mother was missing. “So we took him seriously,” Robert said, adding that they immediately made the one-hour trip back to Pineville.

“Police were already there, and they got our statements,” he said. The next day, there was “a massive amount of people that turned out to help look. It was the volunteer fire department, police department, family, people in the -- in the community. It was a massive, massive search on foot. So this search continued that heavy for about two to three days.”

But there was no sign of Ruth.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Ruth’s disappearance. According to their release, Ruth was last seen “on 7/16 at approximately 2PM. She was last seen walking in the 1800 block of Highway 45 in the Pineville area of Berkeley County.”

The release also noted that Ruth has dementia and is known to wander.

Dateline reached out to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Department for an update on the case but has yet to receive a response.

Kyani Reid
Robert and his mother, RuthRobert Jenkins

Robert told Dateline that he’s holding out hope that his mother is still out there somewhere. “We pray and we hope that she is,” he said. “We love her, and we can’t wait to see her again.”

On November 27, 2022, Ruth’s 77th birthday, the family held a balloon release in her honor. “It was pretty… it was beautiful,” he said.

Ruth is between 5’4” and 5’6” tall and weighs around 125 lbs. She wears glasses and was last seen wearing jeans and a white T-shirt.

Anyone with information about Ruth’s disappearance is asked to call the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office at 843-719-4412.