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Few clues to comfort family of missing Keyes man

Few clues to comfort family of missing Keyes man

Keyes resident Robert "Bobby" Tennison was reported missing in Humboldt County and was last seen by his family in January.


POSTED December 8, 2009 10:06 p.m.
Back in the middle of January, Robert “Bobby” Tennison drove up to Humboldt County with his 17-year-old son and a friend. The three sold a dirt bike, had lunch together, and then Tennison left to visit friends, telling his son he would be return home to Keyes by bus the following Saturday.
That was the last time any member of his family has seen or heard from him. Now, as it approaches a year since his last sighting, Tennison’s family is filled with the fear that he has met with some type of foul play and is frustrated at what they see as a half-hearted effort to find him by law enforcement.
“I’m not sure what the problem has been, but it seems like because he’s an adult man, no one has cared enough to really look for him,” said Tammy Lankford, Tennison’s cousin. “It has been very difficult and we just want an answer one way or another.”
Tennison’s family rejects the idea that he willingly disappeared and suspects he has been murdered.
“I know my cousin did not just walk off from his family,” Lankford said. “He loves his children and wouldn’t do that to them.”
Tennison, 38, was a regular traveler to the Humboldt area to visit friends he had grown up with in Keyes. On this particular occasion, he was only supposed to be gone a few days before returning home. According to his family, he was going up to visit a few friends and work a few construction jobs in the towns of Alderpoint and Garberville in Humboldt County.
When his return date came and went and the days began to pile up, the family grew more concerned. On Feb. 9, the family filed a missing person’s report with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s department. Lankford said the family believed the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department had been notified, but later found out no report was filed with them until March 19.
“It’s been so frustrating with the split between two counties and the lack of communication from Humboldt,” Lankford said.
It was also around March that the family started hearing whispered tales that Tennison had been murdered. A family friend told Tennison’s mother that he had been killed and that his friends in Alderpoint knew more than they were saying.
“The Humboldt County investigator said he’s spoken to these people, but that there’s nothing to go on,” Lankford said. “If these people were really Bobby’s friends and had nothing to do with his disappearance, then why didn’t they ever report him missing and why have they changed their numbers and not kept in contact?” Lankford asked.
One person who has spoken to law enforcement is the woman Tennison was staying with in Alderpoint, however, Lankford said she has changed her account numerous times.
Lankford said the woman called the family a few weeks after Tennison was last seen and asked if he had returned home yet. “She said she had gone out of town for a few days and when she returned home Bobby’s bag was still there, but that he was no where to be found,” Lankford said.
Later, according to Lankford, the woman said she had given Tennison a ride to Garberville and that he took some LSD and wandered off.
“I don’t by it for a second,” Lankford said. “Bobby did use marijuana recreationally, but he never would have taken acid. This is the third version of the story she has told.
“All we keep hearing is talk and rumors,” an exasperated Lankford said. “It’s time for someone to step up and say what happened.”
According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, Tennison’s disappearance has been filed as a missing person under unknown circumstances.
The California Department of Justice reports that the number of active missing person cases averages around 25,000 in the state. A new hope to help find missing people has been launched with HR 3695. The bill has been introduced and referred to committee in the House of Representatives.
If passed, it would authorize additional funding and increase availability to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, and help with data sharing between multiple agencies.
Tennison’s family wanted to hire a private investigator but can’t afford the feed. For now, all they can do is spread the word about his disappearance and hope that some new bit of information comes up soon.
“It’s hardest for his sons, who are just wondering where their father has gone to,” Lankford said.
The family is planning a candlelight vigil for Tennison on Saturday, but as of press time had not set a time or place.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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