KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — The subject of a statewide Silver Alert continues to stump investigators.
Ten months ago, 72-year-old Daniel Dewey disappeared. In the time since his disappearance, authorities have increased the reward leading to his location to $50,000.
Daniel Dewey lived alone with his dog, Snoopy. He managed his diagnosis of "ménière disease," which caused a severe ringing in his ears, much like vertigo. He also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam War, according to his family.
Despite the challenges, Daniel lived independently in a subdivision off Brown Gap Road. Now, Daniel's home sits empty -- the door closed, and Snoopy has been rehomed with other family members.
How did all of this happen? Family, neighbors, friends and investigators have no idea.
Linda Gray was Daniel's next-door neighbor. But more than that, she said they were best friends. They were the type of neighbors, she said, that came knocking at the back door instead of the front.
"I don't want a new neighbor," she said. Linda recalls Daniel moving to the subdivision in 2000 when it first opened. She moved in in 2002.
"We immediately connected. He gave me nicknames and he was my best and closest friend," Linda said.
She said she used to make him all sorts of dishes such as fried potatoes, bar-b-que short legs, and Mexican cornbread. Even if it stuck to the bottom of the pan, Gray said Dewey ate it with a smile and with words of thanks.
That's the impression Daniel left on his family, too. His nephew, Ray Lew, lives in California now; however, years ago, the two lived close. They shared many memories.
"You grew up loving your uncles and your horse playing around," Ray said. "He actually took me to my first professional football game, the LA Rams. I thought, at the time, we had great seats. Then when we go there, we were sitting so low that when the teams came out all we saw was the little helmets just running down the field."
As unfortunate as it was, Ray said it was a great experience with his uncle. To this day, he attributes his long-time love of the Rams to those roots.
More than sports, the two connected on a familial level, checking in with each other regularly, despite being across the country.
"He was the type of guy that just wanted to know about you as a person," Ray said. "It wasn't so much about what he was doing. He wanted to know what you, your family, and my kids all about them."
It was a shock to Ray that his uncle would vanish without a trace.
Linda said she last saw Daniel on March 23. She spoke with him briefly and arranged to pick up groceries for both of them. Linda said Daniel told her he wasn't feeling well.
When she went to drop the groceries off, he was not there. The next day, he still wasn't.
But, on the third day, Linda went to the front door.
"Saturday morning, I went to the front door. The door was wide open, and the storm door was unlocked. It was just snoopy, scared. That's when I posted the Silver Alert," Linda said.
Linda said Daniel's dog, Snoopy was potty trained. But, the dog had defecated in the house after being left unattended for an unknown amount of time.
Linda contacted authorities. That day, a Silver Alert was issued.
The 72-year-old's family said, in addition to the dog, Daniel left his car, keys, wallet, and cell phone still at home. That was not normal, Ray and Linda agreed.
"For him to leave those things and walk away from his house is obviously alarming," Ray said.
The Knox County Sheriff's Office is the investigating department on this case. Two days after Daniel was reported missing, deputies located his shoes about half a mile from his home at Black Oak Ridge Baptist Church.
According to Ray, those shoes were facing the direction of Daniel's home.
Once, they located the shoes, investigators took it a step further. They contacted the church and got a hold of surveillance video, Ray said.
"He was last seen on video at 1:53 in the morning, approaching the church, and then circling the church, I believe, two to three times," Ray said.
Then, Daniel walked out of the frame. Nobody is sure where he went next.
"Our next thought is where do we go next? We're trying to figure that out right now," Ray said.
Just a few weeks later, Stephanie Gamble entered the scene. She brought along her "Seach 22" team.
"We are just a completely volunteer group that helps families find closure or their loved ones when someone's gone missing," she said.
She said the number of volunteers for the group varies in availability. Sometimes they have 15 people, and other times they have 25 searching.
She showed the paths this group has waked and searched. They have covered every inch of a half a quarter-mile radius from Daniel's home. It took hours, days, weeks, and months of effort. And, they're not going to stop. Now, she said the team will extend to a half-mile radius.
However, Linda cannot shake the feeling that something bad has happened.
"I am always kind of looking off into the ditch," she said.
Meanwhile, Daniel's home still sits empty.
"I just keep thinking he'll just come home alive and healthy," Linda said.
"If anyone has any information about my uncle Dan, please come forward," Ray said. "We need closure for our family. Obviously, there's a reward out there. That is still out there for anybody that can possibly help out in this case. We need to bring Dan home. We need closure for the family."
If you have any information you can call 1-800-TBI-FIND or contact the Knox County Sheriff's Office.