County rallies in hunt for missing Tazewell man

Published 11:14 pm Sunday, February 21, 2021

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On Feb. 16 around 10 p.m. Aaron Massengill got into his black 1991 Nissan hardbody pickup and drove off into the night.

The 28-year-old has not been heard from since, and his family and friends are frantic for his safe return.

Sharon Massengill, his mother, says she knew something was not right when Aaron did not return the next morning to care for his dogs.

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“I know a lot of people thought I was crazy, but I know my kids. He would brave a snowstorm to get home to feed his dogs.

He also wouldn’t have done me and his sisters like that because he knows we fret over him and he can’t stand it if he thinks he’s worried you,” she said.

The last ping recorded from Aaron’s cell phone occurred shortly after his departure that first evening. The ping came from a cell tower located 1.7 miles northeast of Adler Road, placing the phone somewhere in the Bacchus Road area. This does not mean he was using the phone, and in fact, records show his phone was off at that time, according to Sharon Massengill.

She spoke of the outpouring of support and the tangible way in which even strangers have taken on the hunt for the missing man and how it has given the family hope that Aaron will be found.

“It’s a string and a prayer. If it were not for the people in this community, I don’t think we’d be standing. They lift us up daily. It’s overwhelming. It’s the most heart wrenching thing that anybody can go through. I understand he’s a grown man but they’re never – not your babies. Not knowing if they’re safe, not knowing if they’re laying out in these cold temperatures – there’s just no words to describe,” she said.

Sandy Clark, who is spearheading the search, said as of Sunday evening that there is “zero information” about where Aaron might be.

“They’ve brought in helicopters, airplanes. They’re searching on the ground, in cars. If there’s one thing to get out to the public it’s this: anyone with any information, please come forward, even if it’s anonymously, if they know something.

Somebody out there knows something. If they would just tell it to where we would have a lead to find Aaron,” said Clark.

A reward, set at several thousand dollars and growing, has been posted for any information leading to the discovery of the missing man.

Clark says she’s been asked just what makes this particular case so special in comparison to other missing persons’ cases.

Why has there been such a coming together to find Aaron.

“He’s a good old country boy, and in Claiborne County the people treat each other like family. And, so everybody took a personal interest in trying to locate him,” said Clark.

Claiborne County Mayor Joe Brooks, who has spent a substantial amount of time searching for the young man, said the group scoured the area around the Tazewell Racetrack in the Cave Springs community on Sunday with no luck.

The search is ongoing. An estimated 800 plus miles of roadway has been combed by volunteers and law enforcement officers including those from the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office Airwatch Helicopter pilots have spent a good bit of time searching from the air.

On Sunday, a local resident used his drone to search the Lonesome Valley area near the river, again with no luck.

Sharon Massengill, who was the last known person to see her son that evening, says Aaron was not depressed, his behavior was normal and nothing was “out of the ordinary.”

She added that he was not hunting, fishing or hiking, and that his credit and debit cards were not used.

Anyone with surveillance cameras located in the search areas are asked to pinpoint the time Aaron went missing and review any vehicles coming and going along the roadways. The smallest detail could be the lead to finding the missing man.

The Aaron Massengill Information Center, located at 109 Main Street in New Tazewell, is now operational as of Feb. 22.

This is the central location for planned searches, to get information like maps and flyers, and to call in tips or suggestions.

The phone number will be posted soon to the “Search for Aaron Massengill” Facebook page.

Anyone interested in helping in the organized searches by area may contact the information center.

Aaron’s Nissan truck carries the license plate #DBF828.

If you have any information, or have seen Aaron or his truck, contact the Tazewell Police Department at 423-626-5104, ext. 204, or call the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office at 412-626-3385 or Claiborne E911.