SYLACAUGA -- Two decades after their relative’s mysterious disappearance, a Sylacauga family is still seeking answers.

Miles Morris Jr., better known as Uncle Buddy, was last seen around noon on June 7, 1994. He was believed to be headed into the woods near his home off East Park Street to collect medicinal herbs. Not a trace has been found of him since.

Morris’ disappearance prompted a massive manhunt involving agencies from as far away as Trussville, and even included a psychic, according to news reports. A memorial service was held for Morris, who was 80 at the time of his disappearance, in 1998. His body has never been found.

Several tips and potential suspects came about during the years after Morris’ disappearance, according to his nephew, Willie James Williams, but without a body, Williams said there was never enough physical evidence to connect any one person to the suspected crime.

“We had good leads at the time,” Williams said. “We even had a suspect arrested at one point, but they would never talk. Our lawyer said it would be difficult to prosecute without the body for evidence, and if it did turn up later, it would be double jeopardy to try that person again.”

Williams said Morris has many relatives in the Sylacauga area, and they have not given up hope in uncovering answers.

Rosie May Love, a niece of Morris, said she feels the family “wasn’t as aggressive as we should have been” in the initial search for her uncle out of concern for retaliation on Morris’ wife, Louise, who was living alone after his disappearance. 

Over the years, Love said she has heard theories and rumors about what happened to her uncle – some say he got in a car and rode away, others say he was thrown in a well – but the family suspects the facts are right in front of them.

“I understand there’s a lady still living that’s one of two people who might’ve been involved,” she said. “It sounds like these people were drug folks, or users anyway, and they knew Uncle Buddy kept money on him, because he did lawns all over Sylacauga. Something should have emerged by now. I just pray that someone who knows about this here would have a heart, have a conscience, and not take this to their grave.”

Morris was an important figure in his family, Love said, and was well-known throughout Sylacauga, where he lived all his life.

“We all have fond memories of Uncle Buddy,” Love said. “He was the father figure to all my cousins and myself, and everybody loved him. He always had a smile for you. His very personality brightened Sylacauga, and it’s very sad that this has not been solved. He did not deserve what happened to him – whatever it was.”

Williams encouraged anyone with information about the disappearance to speak to police or to one of Morris’ relatives.

“We are positive somebody knows something,” he said. “They’re still around.”