October 2, 2006 at 8:30 PM EST - Updated July 27 at 12:09 PM
BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- The search for Billy Wade Russ spanned nine weeks, even extending out of the state. Then, Saturday, a neighbor finally found the man's body -- lying just 50 feet away from his home in a nearby yard.
Monday, Billy Wade Russ paused over the area where his son's body was found.
"This is where they found him lying, right here," said Russ, crying. "He's been missing for nine weeks -- since the 26th of July-- and nobody found him."
Billy Wade Russ lived in Ocean Isle his entire life. After he disappeared, investigators searched his property time and time again. Now, his family wonders: How could authorities have missed the body?
"Nobody ever looked here for him," Russ said, "just didn't look."
Sheriff Ron Hewett said the county feels badly, but his men worked hard to find Russ.
"We searched all over Brunswick County, used a lot of manpower, a lot of hours and even traveled outside the state in the search," Hewett said.
"The family missed Mr. Russ' body, and so did we," he said. "We all looked, we're in this thing together, we've been in it together. We certainly wish we would have found the body earlier, but unfortunately, the family also did not see the body, so that proves that we're all human."
And, the elder Russ said, that mistake will keep him wondering if things could have turned out differently.