In the fall of 2017, 19-year-old Jared Chavis had just finished ten months in the Air Force, when he decided to move from his home state of Louisiana down to Houston, Texas, his father Willie Smith told Dateline.
“He went down there for more opportunities. He was taking online classes. He had a job a hooking up satellite dishes,” Willie said of his son Jared. “I was proud of him.”
Jared had only been in Houston for a few months and was living with Willie’s niece. Willie said he spoke to his son about once a week, but his wife, Angela, spoke to their son every day.
“On January 12, 2018, she spoke to him about 9:00 p.m. that night,” Willie told Dateline, adding that nothing seems out of the ordinary.
What seemed like a typical Friday night for their son turned into the beginning of what Willie calls an “unimaginable nightmare” within a couple of hours. Family would later learn that at 10:39 p.m. that night, witnesses saw Jared get into a black Ford Fusion in the 8800 block of Westheimer Road in Houston, Texas, according to a press release from Crime Stoppers of Houston.
“While [Jared] was riding in the back seat of a black Ford Fusion driven by the suspect, a verbal disagreement occurred and gunshots were fired,” the release states. “According to a witness, Jared Chavis never exited the vehicle and has not been seen since.”
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On Tuesday, Houston Police Department Homicide Investigator Gordon Sullivan told Dateline that he had been assigned the case one month after Jared’s disappearance, even though it is still being worked as a missing person case.
“There’s information that we do have, but of course I can’t comment on that because it’s an open and active investigation,” Investigator Sullivan said. “At this time, we are looking into multiple suspects. I’m not saying multiple did it, but we are investigating multiple people.”
A Crime Stoppers of Houston press release names one suspect as “Bolt Suave,” but Houston Police declined to confirm or deny such details.
Jared’s father, Willie, says he and his wife, who live in Louisiana, heard from family the following day, a Saturday, that Jared had not come home. Willie added that he tried calling his son’s phone, but it was going straight to voicemail.
“I got on the road and I got there Sunday,” Willie told Dateline. “I stayed in Houston a whole week, searching dumpsters, searching everywhere. And nobody was telling me anything.”
“The number one thing we do want out there in public is that he is missing, his family is concerned, and he hasn’t been heard from since [January 12],” Investigator Sullivan told Dateline. “We are still actively following leads as they come in. We have been searching anywhere our leads take us.”
Investigator Sullivan declined to comment on where, exactly, authorities have searched.
In September of 2018, nine months after Jared was last seen, Willie traveled back down to Houston to continue searching for his son.
“I went down and put out flyers. I go door-to-door talking to people,” Willie said. “And we put up $5,000 for a reward.”
“Jared had a son that was born in April, and now we have the baby, because the mom is in the Air Force,” Willie told Dateline. “We get by day by day and wait for God to give the answers.”
Jared Chavis is described as being 5’7” and weighing 160 lbs., with brown eyes and black hair. Jared has the following tattoos: on his upper left arm, the words “Helen Welch,” his grandmother’s name, inside of praying hands with the date she died; on his right tricep, the letter “J”; on his left tricep, the letter “C”; on his inner right forearm, the quote “NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME SHALL PROSPER.” He was last seen wearing jeans, a red hoodie, white t-shirt, denim vest and orange LeBron James tennis shoes. If you have any information on Jared’s whereabouts, please call the Houston Police Department at 832-394-1840.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.