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PINCKNEYVILLE — In the week since Billy Stroud Jr. was reported missing, there have been more questions than answers and law enforcement says the one person who could clear things up won’t talk.

Stroud was reported missing Jan. 17 to the Du Quoin Police Department, though he hadn’t been seen since Jan. 13.

A release from the Missing Person’s Awareness Network said Stroud was last seen leaving his girlfriend’s house with a person familiar to him and that his car had later been found off of a rural road in Perry County. The friend who had reportedly been driving the car is not missing.

A news release from Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis’ office said that investigators determined that Stroud "may have been" a passenger in a car that led deputies on a chase on Sunday, Jan. 13, into the Campbell Pond area off of Campbell Road.

Bareis later said that his deputies tried to pull over a vehicle that had a “junked” title, which meant the vehicle was not road-safe. He said the driver of the car took officers through a series of back roads that ultimately reached a dead end. Then, he said, the two men got out and fled on foot.

It was believed that Stanley Rector was the driver of the vehicle — but even this is in question now, Bareis said Friday.

“He still won’t even admit that he was the driver,” Bareis said.

According to Judici, Rector was arrested and charged with auto theft in Jackson County. Bareis said Jackson County investigators have done their best to get Rector to talk about what he might know of Stroud’s whereabouts, but he won’t budge. In fact, Bareis said Rector reported the vehicle Perry County deputies tried to stop as stolen, putting even more distance between him and the last known whereabouts of Stroud.

In the absence of hard facts, conjecture has filled the void. Facebook is alive with rumors of all types. Some have accused Rector not only of being the last person to have seen Stroud, but also of perhaps having actually killed him.

Still others finger Stroud’s girlfriend as having a hand in the disappearance. Her public Facebook page has been filled with posts asking for information and begging Stroud to come home.

“We’re just dealing with a lot of hearsay,” Bareis said Friday, adding that all of it's interesting, but without concrete evidence, none of it is terribly useful.

Bareis said he took time this week to go back over the dashcam footage of the attempted stop where officers believed to have seen Stroud flee a vehicle on foot. But by the time the camera catches up the vehicle, the doors are open and the men are gone. Bareis explained that the responding officer said based on a description of Stroud, he believes he was one of the men he saw, though he can’t be certain.

“The only person that knows 100 percent is Rector,” Bareis said, and he’s not talking.

“It unnerves me … that a person could be so depraved,” Baries said. He doesn’t know how someone could likely know something that could help a lost friend and say nothing.

Bareis said until someone comes forward or hard evidence is found, his investigators remain at a stand still. Even a further ground search wouldn’t be useful. He said the area where it’s believed Stroud was last seen is sitting under several feet of flood water. The drone search didn’t turn anything up and dogs had to be called off for safety reasons — the water too deep and the temperatures too cold.

So they wait.

“It just kind of eats at you,” Bareis said. “It’s sad that we can’t get closure for the family.”

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Reporter

Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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