Thanks to a big turnout of searchers on a cold night this week, 13-year-old Corey Shields is safe and warm today.
The Eureka Community youth, who is learning disabled and suffers from epilepsy, wandered away from home about 4 p.m. Monday and wasn’t found until shortly after midnight Tuesday morning.
"I can’t thank everyone enough," said Corey’s aunt, Bobbie Mills. "We were getting frantic. It was so cold.
"There must have been about 200 people out," she said. "You couldn’t get down Hubbard Road for the cars … no one was giving up." (See related story).
Mills, whose sister Wanda Shields is Corey’s mother, lives next door. His dad is Terry Shields.
Corey’s routine includes "sitting on my porch in the afternoon until I get home from work," Mills said.
"I got home a little later than usual Monday because I had to get some things in Batesville and he wasn’t there," she said.
Mills walked to her sister’s home and Corey wasn’t there. Her sister was occupied, she said, with another child who is "completely handicapped."
Corey’s mom said he’d told her he was going to "play with the dogs," Mills said.
"He has two little dogs … they are identical," she said. And, they weren’t to be found.
At that, Mills began to look for her nephew "in his little playing places."
She was soon joined by her sister’s "boyfriend" and they began to widen the search.
But when dark came, Mills said she knew "we needed help to find him."
After a preacher told Mills he’d seen Corey beside a gate across the road, the search moved from "behind the house to there," she said.
"He wasn’t supposed to go over there but I just knew in my heart that’s what he’d done," she said.
That’s when the Panola County Sheriff’s Department and the local Civil Defense office headed by Son Hudson got involved.
Sheriff’s Investigator Craig Sheley said a large group of volunteers, including volunteer firefighters, joined deputies and others in the search.