JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Eight years after two teenage boys disappeared from a Jacksonville middle school, their families still dream of seeing them again.
Mark Degner, 12, and his friend Bryan Hayes, 13, never got on the bus to go home from Paxon Middle School and instead walked away from the school, according to an eye witness. There has been no sign of them since.
For Darlene Briggs, grandmother of Mark Degner, the pain of not knowing what happened to Mark never subsides. She wears a shirt with the caption "Have you seen these two boy?" printed above Bryan's and Mark's pictures.
"Every day you think about them, everyday you are missing them. Every day you are wondering how they are living, or where they are. Every day you pray for a miracle," Briggs said.
Briggs and Degner's aunt Angie Campbell have not given up hope; they continue to be the voice for the boys, reminding people they are still missing. They say there is reason to believe the two boys are still alive.
"The detective said to us that there was no reason why he thought that something tragic had happened to them, that has been my hope," Campbell said. "There is no real evidence that they are not alive so it's our job to keep them out there in the public eye."
The Justice Coalition, an organization that serves innocent victims of violent crime on the First Coast, continues to support the family and keeps their story alive through its monthly newspaper The Victim's Advocate. Sabrina Gouch, coalition member, has been supporting the family since the boys' disappearance and she says it is one of the most tragic and frustrating cases she has been involved in.
"The lack of valid tips or leads in this case, it is if the boys have disappeared into thin air," Gouch explained, even though the family offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the discovery of the boys.
"We just continue to keep faith and hope, we trust the boys will be found, that is what we live for every day," Briggs said.
First Coast News