Illinois Father Jared Hanna Remains Missing Six Years Later

Jared Hanna
Jared HannaHanna Family

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By Rachael Trost
Jared HannaHanna Family

Authorities believe father-of-two Jared Hanna was looking for help when he disappeared.

His 1990 GMC Sierra truck was found abandoned and out of gas parked on Joliff Bridge Road, an isolated area more than 70 miles from his home. Two witnesses reported seeing him in the area. One told authorities they believe it was Jared who knocked on their door around 8:30 a.m. asking for directions to a nearby town.

Sunday marked six years since that July weekend when Jared vanished. And police are nowhere closer to answers.

"With every search you get your hopes up that maybe this time you will find him and we can have closure," Heather Hanna, Jared's sister, told Dateline. "We have chased guys down because they looked like Jared from the back, hoping and wanting it to be him."

It's still unclear exactly what Jared, 28 at the time, was doing in Clinton County, Illinois that weekend. His family believes he may have been in the area to go fishing.

His sister Heather said he had recently been talking about taking his two daughters fishing before he went back to work, although the girls were with their mother that weekend.

What is known, is that Jared didn't arrive to pick up the girls, three and six at the time, from their mother on July 3. There were no calls or texts from him explaining his absence. Calls to his phone went straight to voicemail.

For his sister Heather, that was an immediate red flag.

"From the phone call through the first week, it felt like a nightmare," Heather said. "We were up all day searching and couldn't sleep at night. I was up with the girls crying all night."

When authorities called Jared and Heather's mother on July 5 to tell her Jared's car was found abandoned, Heather said it confirmed their worst fears.

"Jared would never have just left his girls. Something had to have happened to him for him to disappear," she told Dateline.

Several extensive searches of the area where Jared was last seen were conducted. Volunteers on ATVs and horseback combed the woods and farm fields nearby. No solid leads were uncovered.

Later that summer, a black duffel bag belonging to Jared was found five miles from where the truck had been found. It was wet and underneath a deer stand. Authorities believe it had been there since Jared disappeared. No leads were uncovered from the bag, officials said.

Over the years, rumors and hearsay have swirled around Jared's disappearance.

The last confirmed sighting of Jared was at 11:45 a.m. on July 2 on security images at a local food mart. His cell phone last pinged off a tower in Centralia, nearly two hours from that food mart, around 9:30 p.m. that night. After that, the phone was either turned off or died.

Some reported seeing him at two bars in Alton, Illinois, an hour and a half west of Centralia, the night of July 2. Those sightings haven't been confirmed.

Although two witnesses reported seeing him, or someone who resembled him, the morning of July 3, it’s difficult to confirm if that person asking for directions was Jared.

Officials with the Clinton County Sheriff's Department, with assistance from the Jersey County Sheriff's Department, continue to investigate. Despite chasing down a number of leads over the years, an official with the Clinton County Sheriff's Department told Dateline none has panned out.

Jared's family is concerned that incorrect information has been circulated in the years since Jared's disappearance. But in their eyes, as long as someone knows he is missing, maybe they can help bring him home.

"Another year has gone by without any information and [we're] hoping that maybe someone will come forward with just the right piece of information that we need to finally find him," Heather told Dateline.

Jared Hanna is described as 5'7" tall, weighing 195 lbs. with black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is urged to call the Clinton County Sheriff's Department at (618) 594-4555.

Clinton County Crimestoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to Jared.