A Rutherford County man suffering from cancer has seemingly disappeared, and his family is making a plea for his safe return. However, they know there is a chance he may not be alive.
Dale Gaines, 58, was once a standout Riverdale High School basketball and football player, who also ran track in the 1970s.
"He was really well-known, especially in the sports world," said his brother, Jonah Gaines. "He and my brother were pretty good in sports, but I was just average."
Dale Gaines has been missing since Sept. 17, 2013, and his family hasn't heard from him, which they say is quite unusual.
"After two days, he would report," said brother Guster Gaines. "He lived with me. He usually comes back home after that."
Gaines was diagnosed with throat cancer last summer. He was undergoing chemo and radiation treatments when he just disappeared four months ago.
There have been a few tips coming into the sheriff's department, but so far nothing has panned out.
Several Rutherford County residents claim they saw him riding his bicycle, an older model green bike with thick white-wall tires. That was his only form of transportation.
"It's just unlike Dale to fall off the face of the earth, him and that bicycle. We haven't seen either one of them," Jonah Gaines said.
The missing man was known to hang out in the East Castle Street area of Murfreesboro.
One person who knew him told family members Dale Gaines talked of being in pain and would often go to Todd Lake, his favorite fishing hole, to relax.
"He said, 'I hurt so bad,' and said it jokingly, that he would want to go and jump into Todd Lake," Jonah Gaines said.
Rutherford County sheriff's detectives have ruled out foul play.
"There has been no movement on his bank account whatsoever, so I've kind of ruled out theft," said Det. Phil Brooks. "If someone had taken him and tried to access his bank account, we would know about it."
The family is hoping to close the chapter of Dale Gaines' whereabouts, whether good or bad.
"My prayer is that God will give us closure," Jonah Gaines said. "If he's here, let us find him. If he's gone, let us know that so his kids and grandkids, brothers and sisters can go on."
Detectives said they will be checking with neighboring counties to see if Dale Gaines could be staying at a homeless mission.
If you think you may have seen Dale Gaines or know his whereabouts, please contact the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at 615-898-7770.
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