A woman who had been missing for several days and a man were rescued from a heavily wooded area in western Candler County on Friday afternoon.
It was an unusual sequence of events that led deputies to locate Jacquisha Mincey, 25, of Statesboro and Khalil Harris of Vidalia in the woods near Griffin Ferry Road.
According to Chief Deputy Melvin Ivey, Candler County Sheriff’s Office was contacted on Wednesday, July 10, about a missing woman, Mincey, who was last seen in Statesboro on July 9. When filing the report, a friend of Mincey’s said that the “Find My Friend” app on Mincey’s cell phone indicated that she was in the Cool Springs Church Road area.
Ironically, Ivey reported, the day before, on Tuesday, July 9, the Sheriff’s Office had received a call about a suspicious vehicle parked in the Cool Springs Church area.
“We ran the tag, and nothing came back,” Ivey said. “The keys were in the car and the windows were rolled down and the car looked like it was just parked there, like maybe it belonged to somebody at the church. There was nothing suspicious there so we secured the vehicle and left.”
The car belonged to Mincey’s friend of Statesboro who had loaned it to Mincey to travel to Vidalia to see Harris. And once the friend reported Mincey missing on Wednesday, deputies realized that the car discovered on Tuesday was connected with Mincey.
When Investigator Justin Wells posted Mincey’s photo on the Sheriff’s Office facebook site on Thursday, a relative of Harris shared the photo and replied on facebook that Harris had not been seen since Tuesday, either, but that family had not filed a missing person’s report.
Deputies began searching the area Wednesday evening after the missing person report was filed. However, Ivey said, “We had no idea she was in the area. We knew she was missing and the car loaned to her was found in the county and that the ‘Find My Friend’ app showed she had been in the area, but we didn’t know if she was still here.
“On Thursday, our deputies started gathering more information and on Friday morning, they were searching and came across suspicious tracks. They followed those tracks into the woods and began yelling out. They could hear people yelling back and found both Ms. Mincey and Mr. Harris in a heavily wooded area.”
According to Ivey, both were transported to the hospital for treatment and are believed to have been in the woods for several days. But the question of why they were in the woods has yet to be answered.
Because of their health condition, Ivey had not yet been able to interview the two as of press time Tuesday. However, he said, there is no indication at this point of foul play.
“But I can’t comment on how or why they ended up there because I just don’t know,” Ivey said.
Deputies Chad Collins, Corey Gibson and Miguel Aviles had been part of the investigation and were off duty Friday morning when they resumed their search. However, Ivey reported, “They came in on Friday during the daylight hours on their own time.” They were joined by Jailers Victor Fordham and Blaine Sutton, who were also off duty, as well as on-duty deputies Jason Aldrich and Adrian Montealvo and Fordham’s son, Matt Fordham, to begin the search that led to Mincey’s and Harris’ rescue.
They began the search at 8 a.m. and around 10 a.m., the two were found in what was described as a densely wooded area and had to be extracted by the search and rescue team.
Ivey praised the work and determination of the deputies to locate Mincey and, subsequently, to find Harris.
“The Sheriff and I commend them for their dedication and for their hard work,” Ivey said of the search team.
“I am very proud of our personnel who kept on the mission and searched through some of the most difficult terrain we have seen in Candler County,” said Sheriff John Miles. “Without their hard work and dedication to the task, I believe the outlook for those two individuals would have been grim.”
Assisting with the rescue operation were Metter Fire-Rescue, Candler County Emergency Management Agency, Candler County EMS, Georgia State Patrol Aviation, Georgia Emergency Management/Homeland Security and Georgia Forestry Commission.