WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It has been one year since a Wilmington woman went missing from downtown. For a year, Shannon Rippy’s family and friends, along with police have searched for her.
Sunday marked the one year anniversary of her disappearance as the effort continues to find her. It is search highlighted by a false alarm, bringing false hope, even as a man sits in jail charged with her murder.
“Hold your relatives close and hug them. You’ll never know when it’s the last time you’re going to see them,” said Shawn Dayton, Rippy’s brother.
Dayton wishes he could hold his sister one more time, and tell her he loves her. But he can’t.
“It’s been a year, and she is on our minds heavily,” he said as he searched through the woods at Greenfield Lake for his sister.
“It is still a lot of disbelief. My mother hopes every day she’ll come walking through the door. We all wish that,” said Dayton. “If just, if we can give her some closure, that’ll be the nice part.”
Rippy’s loved ones are not the only ones looking for closure. Detectives with the Wilmington Police Department have spent countless hours trying to bring her home as well.
“We thought we were making progress in the case. We did, in fact think we had found Shannon, but it turned out otherwise,” said Lieutenant Tom Witkoski.
False hope for Rippy’s family meant closure for another family.
The body found off of Hoover Road in Hampstead was not Rippy, but Elisha Tucker, bringing Rippy’s case back to square one.
“It has been a roller coaster,” said Witkoski. “I have a room full of detectives who want nothing more than to clear it.”
The roller coaster has been more like a nightmare for Rippy’s loved ones. On their days off they comb the area around Greenfield Lake where reports suggest she was seen last. Their search also extends to Hoover Road in Pender County where she worked.
“You don’t want to give up. You can’t. You may not look as often, but it’s on your mind every day,” said Dayton.
As the second year without his sister begins, there is still no sign on where Rippy could be.
“When you can’t see them and you have so much you want to say, you can’t tell them anymore,” said Dayton.
Even though her body has not been found, police charged James Bradley with Rippy’s murder. They also suspect him in connection with Tucker’s death.
Rippy’s friends and family will be at the Husk at 5:30 Wednesday evening to celebrate her life and motivate others to help them in their search to find her.
Along with help from law enforcement, Rippy’s family has support from the CUE Center for Missing Person.
The Center is a national organization that works to be the voice of the victim within the community. It acts as a support system for loved ones and advocates for the victim.
Leaders want to remind you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation to reach out to them.
“Many times after people report a loved one missing then they go home and sit and wait, and not know what to do. We are those that give that direction and help in the healing process as well as actively search,” said Monica Caison of the CUE Center.
Caison said the Center assists the family until there is a resolution in the case, and that they offer counseling if needed.
The Wilmington branch of the organization has served the Cape Fear for 21 years.