Emerick search centers on river

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

TAYLOR – The search for a Taylor man missing since Monday was suspended near dark on Thursday after searchers combed the Yocona River and nearby land for a second day.
On Wednesday, more than 60 friends, family and volunteers searched the woods off County Road 328 in southwest Lafayette County for Stephen Tyler Emerick, 19.
Efforts on Thursday focused more on the Yocona River.
“We’ve used search dogs and boats and divers, and there’s a team of folks wading the river to see what they can find,” said Chief Deputy Sheriff Terry Prestage. “We wanted to bring in a helicopter, but the weather wasn’t right.” Low clouds and infrequent showers dominated the weather, and today’s forecast calls for a higher likelihood of rain.
Emerick left his furniture plant job in Ecru on Monday around 8 p.m., complaining that he was ill. He never made it home, although he is believed to have visited Walmarts in Pontotoc and Oxford afterward. Emerick’s truck was found Wednesday morning off the county road, within yards of the river, where family members said the teen had often fished. The ignition was on, and his wallet and phone were in place.
On Thursday, family and friends tended to stay on the roadside and on the bridge, where they often congregated to watch searchers in the river a few hundred yards downstream.
Donna Chapman, Emerick’s grandmother, said family members are puzzled by his disappearance.
“He always let his mom or somebody know where he was,” she said.
If Emerick is not found alive – a possibility that with Thursday’s focus on the river seemed more a probability – it will not be the first tragedy in his family.
“My children lost their daddy,” Chapman said. “He was murdered in 1987. That adds to this tragedy.”
“Tyler’s an awesome kid. I hope he wanders back up,” family friend Georgeann Boatright said. “I know the chances aren’t good, but we keep praying.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com