When a person goes missing, it doesn’t matter how old they are – a mother’s desire to find her child remains even if her child is an adult.
That desire is what has been fueling Sandy Sanders since her son, Chris Sanders, vanished six months ago.
“I’m desperate,” Sandy Sanders told Dateline. “He may be 40 years old, but he’s still my kid.”
Sandy’s son Chris was living in a trailer park in Monahans County, Texas, and was working with Sandy’s brother-in-law. Chris’s wife Angela Sanders told Dateline he’d moved out there from their home in Cason, Texas to work in the oil fields around April of 2017.
Chris and his co-workers were having a cookout on the night of August 12, 2017. People at the cookout have since told Sandy that Chris seemed agitated at the cookout, but it was unclear as to what was frustrating him.
Angela told Dateline that she spoke to Chris on the phone while he was at the cookout. She added, “I’d been noticing something different about him all week. I asked him every day what was wrong with him, because he was acting weird. He said, “I’m so tired, and I don’t know how much longer I can take this’.”
Sandy did note to Dateline her son Chris suffered from bipolar disorder.
“The next morning, Chris went for a walk around 9:30 a.m.,” Sandy told Dateline. “Forty-five minutes later, my nephew [who also lived there and worked in the oil fields] called him and asked where he was.”
Sandy’s nephew told her Chris said he was walking eastbound on I-20, an area Sandy describes as an unusual place for a walk.
“Then, Chris hung up the phone. When my nephew called back a few minutes later, Chris’s phone was already off,” Sandy said.
That was the last time anyone is known to have spoken with Chris. His camper and truck were left at the trailer park.
Angela, eight hours away, didn’t yet know her husband was missing.
“We got up Sunday morning and got dressed and went to church. I didn’t call him before church, because I knew he was at a cookout the night before, so I figured I would let him sleep,” she said. “We went to church, and when we got out I kept trying to call him and his phone kept going to voicemail.”
After Chris failed to show up for work that Monday, Angela decided to drive there for herself. She called the Monahans Police Department and met them at the trailer park where Chris’s RV was parked.
“I stayed outside in the car and they went in and searched the RV. He wasn’t in there,” Angela told Dateline. “The officer says there was nothing out of place. There was food in the refrigerator. The only thing that was missing was his wallet and his phone.”
Sandy told Dateline she found out her son was missing a few days later, on August 16, when Angela called her around 10:30 p.m.
“Before I filed the missing persons report, I felt she needed to know her son was missing,” Angela told Dateline. She told Dateline the police told her she had to wait 72 hours to file a report since Chris is an adult.
The next day, Sandy posted on Facebook to get the word out about her missing son. Sandy says her former sister-in-law, who is a police officer at the Lone Star Police Department, saw the post. Since she knew Chris, she called the Monahans Police Department to follow up on the case.
According to Sandy, that’s when she found out a missing persons report had not yet been filed for Chris. The Monahans Police Department reportedly said they hadn’t been contacted about his disappearance. Dateline reached out to the Monahans Police Department for comment, but hadn’t heard back as of Wednesday evening.
“My sister-in-law mentioned [Chris’s medical] history and they were all over it,” Sandy said. “He was on the max dosage of bipolar medicine.”
Sandy said she believes her son may have gone off of his medicine prior to his disappearance.
Desperate to speak to someone about finding her son, Sandy called her local sheriff, Sheriff Jack Martin at the Morris County Sheriff’s Department.
“I contacted the Monahans Police Department on August 18th and they said they were working on it,” Sheriff Martin told Dateline.
For the next few weeks, Sandy said she was in daily contact with the Monahans Police Department, but they had been unable to uncover any significant leads in finding Chris.
"I think that considering his medical condition, I think the stress just overwhelmed him. I think he just snapped," Chris’s wife Angela told KWES.
“All I know is one minute I am happily married and the next minute I can’t find my husband and I don’t know where he is,” Angela told Dateline. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
“If Chris is out there and is OK and doesn’t want to come home, I would be fine with that,” Sandy told Dateline. “I just need him to tell me he’s OK.”
Sandy says her son, a father of two teenagers, is a “very loving, outgoing” man.
“He loves his kids. He loves his family,” Sandy said. “He never meets a stranger.”
Chris Sanders is described as being 5’11” tall and weighing about 210 lbs. He has strawberry blonde hair and typically has a full beard and mustache. Chris was last seen wearing a black hat, a black shirt with the letters "TCU", blue jeans and boots. If you have any information on Chris’s whereabouts, please call the Monahans Police Department at (432) 943-3254.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include an interview with Angela Sanders, Chris’s wife.