The family of missing college student Devon Minor is back in the Philadelphia area this weekend, for the first time since the 18-year old disappeared Jan. 20.
Reluctantly, they have developed a new perspective on the search.
“We are at a stand still because at this point so many things just don’t add up,” said Minor’s aunt Tammy Horton in a phone interview Friday night. “Everything was left in the room; his coat, his keys, his iPhone, his wallet, everything…Now we’re kind of just open to possibilities.”
Minor is a freshman at Geneva College, a Christian school in Beaver Falls, Pa., near the Ohio border. His aunt, Eleanor Gail Barlow, raised him with her two children in the Germantown and Olney areas and moved the family to Clifton Heights last year. His mother died when he was two.
Minor graduated in 2010 from La Salle College High School in Montgomery County. His disappearance has stirred the school community there.
“A lot of alums from that class are on Facebook communicating, and other forms of social media with each other, to communicate about this,” said Chris Carabello, director of public relations for the high school.
Carabello said Minor was a solid student and a quiet, caring person who did weekly outreach to the homeless and tutored at-risk youth.
“He had a kind of calming effect,” Carabello said of Minor’s time in high school. “He was very much into helping people.”
Minor was last seen Jan. 20 between 8 and 10 p.m on the Geneva campus. On Jan. 23, college friends called his family saying he had not returned to his room. The family filed a missing person’s report and drove to Beaver Falls that weekend.
Since then, the Beavers Falls police have called in the FBI to help with the search and Geneva College students have created a Web site called “Prayers for Devon Minor” as a way to raise money and provide moral support for the family.
FBI officials refused to comment on the search and Beaver Falls Police did not respond to requests for comment. On Thursday, Geneva Provost Ken Carson posted a message on Facebook to try to dispel rumors that the search had ended.
“When the physical grid search along the nearby property, riverbanks and hillsides was complete, there were erroneous reports that the search for Devon was over,” he wrote. “The broad scope of the search continues.”
Over the last week Devon Minor’s family has been going door-to-door all over Beaver Falls, handing out missing person flyers to anyone who would take them. Horton said they are posted in every store in the town, but so far results have not been good.
“We have not gotten one tip, not one call,” his aunt said. “We thought all these tips are gonna flood in… but nothing.”
Horton and Carabello described Minor as a quite person. The family does not think he is prone to depression. Previous reports talk of an ominous Facebook post by Minor before his disappearance, saying that he had a problem no one else could help him with. But Minor’s family thinks that might not be accurate.
“We’ve been very upset and concerned about that because there is no evidence right now that that was posted,” Horton said.
At Christmas time Minor learned the identity of his biological father, John Macon, but Horton did not think that news played a role in his disappearance.
“He was excited about that, he handled it really well,” she said.
Macon could not be reached for comment.
Recently the family congregation at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Germantown held a vigil for Minor and his family, and members of the church will join the family when they return to Beaver Falls on Monday, after following up a few leads in Philadelphia this weekend. The plan is to expand the door-to-door search to the surrounding towns in Western Pennsylvania starting on Monday.
Horton said the process has been unbelievably hard, but the family has held together with the help of church and community support. Asked what Philadelphians can do to help, Horton kept it simple.
“Pray and keep your ears and eyes and open,” she said.
If anyone has information about Devon Minor they are being asked to call the Beaver Falls Police Department at 724-846-7101.