Angela York remembers her older brother Richard “Rickey” York as a hardworking, loving man. No surprise, then, that he would spend the 4th of July helping a friend in need.
The friend, Chad Jernigan, is not only Rickey’s longtime friend, he is also Angela’s ex-husband. Angela and Chad had a daughter together, but divorced 15 years ago.
“[Chad] and my brother stayed friends [after the divorce],” Angela told Dateline. “[Rickey] absolutely loved him and would still call him his brother.”
On July 4, 2017 in Texarkana, Texas, Rickey was helping Chad move furniture from a storage unit to Chad’s grandmother’s house. After helping, Rickey, 45, had plans to meet his youngest son, 21-year-old Brody.
Security cameras show Rickey and Chad at the storage unit that afternoon. Cameras also show both men leaving in the same car, with Rickey in the passenger seat.
After that, security cameras never picked up Rickey again.
“Then he’s just gone,” Angela said. “It’s like he just vanished.”
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Angela told Dateline Rickey didn’t have a cell phone, so there was no way to try to contact him. The family figured he may have been out celebrating the 4th of July with friends, she said. But when July 17 came around and there was still no sign of Rickey, their concern grew.
“I called the police and [our] mother went from Prescott to Texarkana to file the report,” Angela told Dateline. “It never crossed our minds that it would be something like this.”
Texarkana Police Department Detective Tabitha Smith told Dateline they then conducted interviews with friends and family.
They also spoke to Chad, with whom Rickey was last seen. He led police to nearby Bubba Green’s Towing on the 400 block of Lake Drive, where he says Rickey asked to be dropped off. Rickey allegedly told Chad he was going to walk back toward the area they had just come from.
Detective Smith said police were unable to confirm if Rickey had indeed walked that way after being dropped off. She added, though, that if Rickey had walked that way, he most likely would have appeared on security cameras.
“We spoke with [Chad] and he gave us some information and we investigated that all the way up until we could find videos and verify it as much as we could,” Detective Smith told Dateline.
Detective Smith couldn’t say whether or not they’d given Chad a lie detector test, but said “it’s not standard procedure in these types of cases for [lie detector tests] to be used because their admissibility in court is not very good.”
“We did a canine search of where he was last seen and they didn’t find anything,” Detective Smith said. She also told Dateline the case is still open, but the search has been suspended because “there is nowhere else to search at this moment.”
Police believe Rickey was highly intoxicated when he was last seen. Angela said her ex-husband had been paying Rickey in beer for helping move the furniture; police later found those beer cans at the storage unit.
“His bank account hasn’t been touched. We haven’t heard a peep from him,” Rickey’s sister Angela told Dateline. “I can’t figure out why or what could have happened. He wouldn’t go this long without talking to his kids and his grandbabies.”
Despite having few leads to go on, Angela says she isn’t going to stop searching for her brother.
“We put fliers all over Texarkana,” Angela told Dateline. “I’ve registered him through NAMUS. I’ve put him on every missing persons website I can find. We’re really close. This is the longest I’ve not talked to him.”
“We are assuming and working off the assumption that he is still in the area,” Detective Smith told Dateline. “If we got further information for any other area, we would conduct an additional search.”
“He loves to eat and drink coffee. He loves rock n’ roll,” Angela told Dateline about her brother. “He loves his kids. He loves his family. He’s just a good guy.”
Richard “Rickey” York is described as being 5’10” and about 205 lbs. Angela told Dateline he has a tattoo of an eagle on his upper arm and is a “big, stocky guy.” The family is offering a $3,100 reward for any information leading to Rickey’s whereabouts. If you have any information on Rickey’s case, please call the Texarkana Police Department at 903-798-3116.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.