Search for missing Kernersville teen takes to the water

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WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. - On a day where John Roberts, father of missing Kernersville teen James “Martin” Roberts, turned 52, crews searched for Martin both on and under the water of Trout Lake near Boone.

“Today is really a day of a lot of hope and a lot of fear,” John Roberts said.

Martin was last seen on April 21 near the Appalachian State University Convocation Center in Boone. Also that day, John says there was a possible sighting of Martin by an acquaintance of his near Trout Lake.

Until now, the searches for Martin have been centered around areas where police believed they could find him alive.

“All the efforts have been under the assumption that he’s out there somewhere and we can find him; whether it’s an injury, an accident or he’s just taken some time off to be by himself,” John said.

However, today’s search was a recovery effort; looking for Martin’s body.

“We’re also dreading the call from the Boone Police Department that they have discovered something that we really don’t want them to discover, so, it’s a tough day but they’re all pretty tough right now,” John said.

Searchers went into the woods, around the Boone Reservoir and into the waters of Trout Lake, while cadaver dogs searched the surface.

"Those very faint gases through decomposition,” is what the dogs would pick up, said Dr. Lisa Briggs, with Western Carolina University. “Even if the body is deep in the water the gases are still going to surface."

John is hoping that his birthday would have spawned “some contact, information, letter, note. Something of that nature,” from Martin.

The search came up empty, leaving open the possibility that John could get the gift he so desperately desires.

“The best birthday present in the world would be to hear from him that he’s OK, and that he’s safe, whether he’s ready to come home now, or later, or whatever his life journey is,” he said.

For more information on Martin and his disappearance, click here.

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