COLD CASE

It's been 1 year. Has anyone seen Barbara Nave?

Investigators at standstill in Sumter missing person case; another search of Sumter property will be held soon

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 3/4/18

Barbara Nave was last seen in February 2017 at her Tondaleia Drive property. She had just returned to Sumter from Savannah, Georgia, where she celebrated her 80th birthday with family.

Reportedly, she last made contact with other people on Feb. 9 …

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COLD CASE

It's been 1 year. Has anyone seen Barbara Nave?

Investigators at standstill in Sumter missing person case; another search of Sumter property will be held soon

Barbara Nave's vehicle was found parked outside of her Tondaleia Drive home when a deputy conducted  a home check in February 2017.
Barbara Nave's vehicle was found parked outside of her Tondaleia Drive home when a deputy conducted a home check in February 2017.
ADRIENNE SARVIS / THE SUMTER ITEM
Posted

Barbara Nave was last seen in February 2017 at her Tondaleia Drive property. She had just returned to Sumter from Savannah, Georgia, where she celebrated her 80th birthday with family.

Reportedly, she last made contact with other people on Feb. 9 when she sent an email to a friend and talked to a contractor about doing work on her property, located off U.S. 521.

Nave was reported missing a few days later after her son had not heard from her.

A deputy sent to Nave's property found her purse inside the house and her vehicle parked in the yard. There was no sign of foul play in the yard or inside the house.

According to a previous statement from Sumter County Sheriff's Office, Nave was concerned about dogs in the area bothering her Lhasa Apsos and wanted to find the other dogs' owners. Nave's two dogs were on the property when the deputy went to check on her.

At least two witnesses - a neighbor and contractor who visited Nave's property - said they saw Nave walking near the woods on her property before she was reported missing.

Paul Nave, Barbara Nave's son, said he doubts that his mother would have left without an explanation because things seemed to be going well for her.

She was teaching English to employees at Continental Tire the Americas - about half a mile from her home, he said.

His mother was also writing a dissertation for her doctorate degree and occasionally volunteered with the American Red Cross to help write grants.

"I think about her every day," Paul said.

He last saw his mother in person during Super Bowl weekend in 2017, and he has had to explain to his children that their grandmother is still missing and that no major advancements have been made in the search for her.

Though no positive news has surfaced after a year, Paul said he and his family are still staying positive.

"It would be better if she shows up," he said.

The search for Nave, a 20-year resident of Sumter County, has been going strong since day one.

Multiple searches - by land, water and air - have been conducted on Nave's 20-acre property and neighboring properties by local, state and out-of-state organizations.

There were about 48 people searching on foot during the first few days of her reported disappearance, said C.S. Bonner, Sumter County Sheriff's Office lead investigator in the search.

Two professional volunteer search groups with dogs, ATVs and horses came to Sumter last year, he said, and another group is expected to come in a few weeks.

The sheriff's office and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, using thermal-imaging camera, have even flown aircraft over the property.

Bonner, a pilot for the sheriff's office, said he could easily see all the way to the ground from a plane while flying during the fall or winter when there are almost no leaves on the trees.

Unfortunately, multiple search parties and countless tips have not yielded any answers.

"We've exhausted a lot of leads," Bonner said. "We're at a standstill."

There was no sign of foul play at Nave's property, he said, and at least five people were polygraphed with no negative results.

Nave's bank information is still inactive except for scheduled payments, he said.

With more questions than answers, investigators can only speculate about what may have happened to the woman.

Bonner said there are a million possibilities of what could have happened but no evidence that any of those things did occur.

There is a possibility that Nave could have gotten injured while walking and nature could have taken over, he said. Her house is behind Pocotaligo River, and there are numerous wild animals such as alligators out there, he said.

"I hate to think of that, but it is a possibility," he said. "We want to find closure for the family if she has passed away, but we want to find her alive."

Though the investigation has slowed, Nave's friends are also keeping hope.

The community is still talking about her disappearance and giving input about what could have happened to her, Bonner said.

"I've received letters almost every month," he said.

Bonner said he keeps those letters and a picture of Nave on his desk so he can think about her when he comes in to work and before he leaves every day.

Everyone has cases he or she will always remember.

"This is at the top of my list," he said.

Kathleen Kreklau of Cherryvale, a friend of Nave, sent a letter to The Sumter Item asking that a story be written because it has been a year ago that she was reported missing.

"I don't want her to be forgotten," she wrote, "and perhaps it could jog someone's memory."

Barbara Nave is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and has gray hair and hazel eyes. She is deaf and wears a Cochlear implant.

Information about Nave's whereabouts can be given by calling Sumter County Sheriff's Office at (803) 436-2000 or provided anonymously by calling CrimeStoppers at (803) 436-2718 or 1-888-274-6372.