Willow Lewis-Sons knows that since her children are now adults with jobs, and no longer live with her, it’s normal to not speak with them on the phone every week. So she didn’t initially worry when her oldest son, 27-year-old Dwayne Lewis, didn’t answer his phone in June.
Willow said Dwayne had recently moved out of her Lexington, Kentucky home after having stayed with her for about a year. Willow told Dateline she isn’t exactly sure where her son was living after he left, but he told her he got a temp job in nearby Winchester, Kentucky through an employment agency.
Dwayne’s younger brother, Tucker, would later tell his mother he saw Dwayne at his home in Lexington in early June.
“[Dwayne] told [Tucker] he thought he had found an apartment in Winchester. And we assumed that's where he was and that he was working and everything was fine,” Willow told Dateline.
But in the beginning of July, Willow says another of Dwayne’s brothers, Trey, asked her if she knew anything about Dwayne working in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge is about three and a half hours from Winchester.
Trey said he and his father, Troy Lewis, had pinged Dwayne’s phone after not hearing from him for a few days. The ping showed Dwayne’s phone to be in Pigeon Forge on June 27. Willow told Trey she didn’t know why Dwayne would be there, as, to her knowledge, he had no friends or jobs there.
“Knowing Dwayne, I thought he probably took a quick road trip and he is back by now,” Willow told Dateline. He didn’t reply to her texts asking if he was OK, but Willow says she didn’t initially think too much about it.
A few days later, she followed up with the rest of Dwayne’s siblings to see if they had heard from him. They hadn’t. Dwayne’s father Troy also hadn’t heard from his son. Willow said she still wasn’t really worried, and presumed Dwayne had probably returned to Winchester and was busy working at his temp job.
Then, on July 10, Dwayne’s brother Trey called Willow again. This time, he was concerned, and asked for Dwayne’s Social Security number so he could file a missing persons report. That’s when Willow says she began texting and calling Dwayne’s phone repeatedly. The calls were going straight to voicemail.
“Him not returning texts and calls doesn’t worry me so much,” Willow told Dateline. But then she checked his phone’s data usage online. It showed he hadn’t used any data since June 29, just two days after his phone pinged in Pigeon Forge. That, Willows says, is when she knew something was wrong.
“The data usage is what worries me. He uses data like crazy,” she said. “He likes to read and watch movies online. And that phone is how he does all of it.”
That afternoon, Willow called the Lexington Police Department to report Dwayne missing.
Brenna Angel, Public Information Officer at the Lexington Police Department, told Dateline that while they did document the report, and list Dwayne as a missing person, there is no evidence of foul play at this time.
“At the time we took [the report], it did not meet the criteria to submit it to the National Crime Information Center, and adults can leave town if they choose,” PIO Angel told Dateline. She added that it would change if Dwayne had made statements that he was going to harm himself, or if authorities had other information to say he was in danger.
PIO Angel ways that while authorities are not conducting any search efforts at this time, Dwayne is still listed as a missing person at the Lexington Police Department.
“They took the report and basically what that means is: If he comes into contact with the police, we’ll get notified,” Willow told Dateline. “I told them this is a young man that burns up data on a phone. That’s how he watches movies and sometimes TV. He has a password to use our DISH account so he can watch on-the-go. But there’s been no usage.”
Willow says Dwayne’s employment agency told the family they would not have placed him as far south as Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the location at which his phone last pinged. Dwayne’s brother then called the agency’s Tennessee office to see if he had registered with them, but they didn’t have anyone listed under Dwayne’s Social Security number.
Regardless, members of Dwayne’s family visited Pigeon Forge on the weekend of July 14, to search for him themselves.
“When we went to Pigeon Forge, we passed out fliers and talked to people. Then, on Sunday, we went to Gatlinburg and I talked to the Police Department. And they were so nice and so understanding. They’re on the lookout now, too,” Willow told Dateline.
Willow says her son Dwayne does not have access to a credit card and is unable to sustain himself financially. His car, a dark green 1999 Volkswagen Passat (license number 234WGC-KY), is also missing.
“My initial thought was he has taken a road trip and then has broken down or ran out of gas and is now in danger,” Willow said. She also said that, while nothing was ever diagnosed, she is “really worried that there could be a mental health issue going on” with her son.
Willow also told Dateline she does not believe it’s possible for her son to have accidentally overdosed on drugs or to have run off with people who do drugs.
“Dwayne is not on drugs. He used to be a party boy back in the day, but he has not been like that since he was 19 or 20 years old. He doesn’t even drink,” she said.
As the days go by with no word from, or sighting of, her son, Willow says she misses Dwayne more and more.
“He’s really kind. He’s the kid that saved up for three months to buy me a Coach purse for Mother’s Day to give years ago,” she said. “I think that he feels life is frustrating for him, and I understand that. His brothers understand that. He knows that we love him, and he knows that we worry about him.”
Dwayne Lewis is described as being 5’10” and weighing about 135 lbs., with brown hair and brown eyes. His mother Willow says when he was last seen in the beginning of June 2018, he was clean shaven with a buzz cut. If you have any information on Dwayne’s whereabouts, please call the Lexington Police Department at 859-258-3600.
08/08/18 UPDATE: Authorities tell Dateline Dwayne Lewis was identified following a traffic stop in Colorado in the early morning hours of August 8, 2018. The Lexington, Kentucky Police Department has removed his name from their list of missing persons.