KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's been a month since a beloved husband and father of three children disappeared. David McAfee was last seen on October 28, according to members of his family.
"People don't just walk off the face of the Earth," said Melissa Gumm, his mother. "My son has never, never not called me, texted me or his brother, sister, or somebody. Courtney even."
His wife, Courtney Campbell, said they had been together for around a decade, and he is her best friend.
"I just love and miss him so much," Courtney said. "He was a loving father of three young boys ... and these boys need their daddy."
McAfee's family said he started the day working on a friend's truck. They said a neighbor saw him doing so. Then, the family said around 2:30 in the afternoon, he received a ride to the local BP gas station on Asheville Highway.
"I got off early that day, and when I came home he wasn't there," said Campbell. "The garage door wasn't locked and he left both of his jackets at home."
The last time McAfee was seen publicly was at a BP gas station off Asheville Highway. According to video footage seen by the family, he went inside and bought a pack of cigarettes. That was the last time he was captured on camera.
At around 5:30 p.m. that day, Courtney said she called McAfee to ask him where he was. He told her he was still working on a truck. But then, at 7:30 p.m., his wife said she received three messages.
The exact message is below.
"Crash Detected SOS. David McAfee called emergency services from this approximate location after iPhone detected a crash. You are receiving this message because David has you listed as an emergency contact."
The message was sent from David's number. According to Apple, if a person has emergency contacts listed, the crash detection software will let those people know if the software is activated.
However, dispatchers in Jefferson County told Courtney that no crashes were reported that night. David never came home.
"The next day, I filled the missing persons," said Campbell.
Around a week later, detectives said they found the iPhone that sent the messages behind Providence Church in Jefferson City. It was off the same road that the crash detection software sent McAfee's location from.
They said it appeared like the phone had been thrown. The family suspects that may have triggered the crash detection.
"There is a brick wall. You know, the detective is like, 'Where has this guy gone?'" said Gumm.
The family said time is slowing to a crawl without a home, but the search continues. However, they also said it's getting increasingly difficult.
"We all try. We've made flyers and just anything that we know to do to find him," said Jason McAfee, his brother.
The search has not calmed their thoughts, and Gumm said the search is getting more desperate. And most of all, she said that his family just wants closure.
"If you gotta check your properties, anybody out on lakes and waterways, check in the water and in the banks," said Gumm. "I'm begging for help."
Anyone with information about McAfee's location should reach out to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. The office can be reached at 865-471-6000.
McAfee's family has a search party meeting on Saturday, December 17 at 11 a.m. They will be meeting at 129 E. Dumplin Valley Road in Kodak, in the left Subway parking lot, if anyone wants to help.