Members of the U.S. armed services put their lives in danger abroad every day. But when they come home, they should be safe from harm.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Marine Corps combat veteran Wade Taylor.
After serving four years in the Marines, including in Afghanistan, Wade was honorably discharged in 2004 and returned home to Alamogordo, New Mexico. After coming home, Wade was a little lost, according to his sister, Crystal Taylor.
And then came this spring, when Wade disappeared. He was last seen in the very early morning hours of May 6, by jail personnel at the Otero County Detention Center in Alamogordo. Authorities confirmed to Dateline that Wade was not being held in the jail at the time, but had come of his own accord for unknown reasons.
“He was asking for help and water. And he said someone was chasing him,” Crystal, an Air Force veteran, told Dateline. “They turned him away. They did not assist him.”
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The detention center provided the Taylor family with a video, which Dateline has not seen, in which Crystal says you can see Wade standing at the door asking for help. Jail personnel have allegedly since told Crystal that Wade was “completely coherent.” But authorities say he arrived at the jail in just his underwear, was injured and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.
“We don’t know the extent of the injuries, we just know he was injured,” Lt. David Kunihiro with the Alamogordo Police Department told Dateline. “There’s more details that we have, but obviously we can’t release them because it is an ongoing investigation.”
Despite Wade last being seen in the early morning hours of May 6, his sister Crystal said their family was only notified of his disappearance days later, after not being able to contact him for days.
“We didn’t find out about the incident until we reported him missing on May 9th,” Crystal told Dateline. “When my mom went to report him missing, the officer taking the report said there was a situation, and we had to make a public information request to be able to get information about it.”
Even the information they have been able to get is limited, she says.
“We don’t know what’s going on right now, but he’s missing,” Crystal said. “We’re not getting any answers or making any progress.”
Authorities told Dateline that Wade walked away from the jail alone, but they don’t believe he simply got lost.
“He was originally reported as a missing person, so it’s still a missing persons investigation,” Lt. Kunihiro said. “But we do believe there is foul play, so we’re not ruling out criminal activity.”
Lt. Kunihiro also said there are people of interest, but their names have not yet been released to the public.
“We have spent numerous man hours searching all over Otero County, following leads and looking for activity,” Lt. Kunihiro told Dateline. “We have not been able to locate him.” I won’t comment on credit card activity.”
Whatever mental or physical state Wade is in, Crystal says her family just wants him home.
“He’s very much loved and very much missed. We’re kind of lost without him,” Crystal told Dateline. “Every day we wake up with hope, and go to bed with disappointment.”
Wade Taylor is described as being 5’11” tall, weighing 260 lbs. with dark brown hair and green/hazel eyes. He has a tattoo on his left arm of the Marine Corps emblem, as well as a tattoo of a dragon on his right arm and one of a reaper on his forearm.
Anyone who may have seen Wade that early morning, or with information regarding Wade’s whereabouts, is asked to call the Alamogordo Police Department at 575-439-4300.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.