On September 18, 1974, 25-year-old James “Tommy” Stanley suddenly packed up all of his belongings, put them in his car, and said a rushed goodbye to his two daughters and the rest of his family. He told them that he was going to Florida and that he wouldn’t be returning to his home in Ohio.
He drove away without ever giving any of them a reason why, which left them with a feeling that he was in some sort of trouble that he was afraid to tell them about. This fear caused them to delay submitting a missing person report until 2007.
A few days later, on September 23, 1974, his green 1969 Fiat was found abandoned in the northbound lane of I-95 near Kenly, North Carolina. All of his personal items were left behind in the car, including his wallet as well as the keys, which were still in the ignition.
As the car appeared to have been left for nearly 48 hours and there were no signs of foul play, it was towed to a local garage where they discovered that it had a broken radiator hose. The car was later assumed by the finance company (probably was still paying for it at the time he went missing) and taken to Winston-Salem, NC.
His family actually never filed a missing person report on him at the time, being fearful for his safety. The way he took off gave them a reason to speculate that he was on the run from something or someone.
His social security number hasn’t been used since 1974.
Tommy was declared deceased in 1981.
I’m really not even sure where to begin… Obviously the biggest question here, aside from where is he, is why did he leave in such a rush? His actions were rash and panicked, and I can definitely understand why his family was so worried about him afterward. He at the very least owed them an explanation about what was going on, it may not have anything to do with his disappearance given that his car was ultimately found nearly 8 hours and 500 miles away.
Is it possible that whatever/whoever he was running from caught up with him somewhere and then in an attempt to cover their crime drove his car to NC?
I just have a hard time buying into this scenario... it seems like a long way to go to dump a car in my opinion, and any evidence in the car was probably lost since it wasn’t processed. There was no reason to since there were no signs of foul play and no missing persons report filed on the driver. Running the plate probably came back clean as a whistle.
Could Tommy have broken down and started walking on foot, whenever he met with the wrong person? If that were the case, why did he leave his keys in the ignition and his wallet in his car? What would make someone just up and leave the car and all their belongings? Could he have left his car and belongings in an attempt to throw everyone off and then walked away to start over? Or did he commit suicide somewhere and he just hasn’t been located yet? (I hate saying that, but we have no idea what he was running from or the frame of mind he was in at the time…)
This whole case is one big WHY, every single situation in it makes me ask it over and over again. I can’t begin to even imagine what his family has gone through all of these years.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Tommy Stanley, please contact the Athens County Sheriff’s OFC at 740-593-6633.
03/06/2022 – no new information