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BOONE, N.C. — A lot has changed since James “Martin” Roberts disappeared from Boone on April 21, 2016. Tonight, his family remains hopeful he’s been around to see it.

Roberts, of Kernersville, was a college student at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, when he went missing.

Investigators say a letter was found in his room, “indicating he was leaving everyone behind,” but made no mention of harming himself. Boone police and Roberts’ family said – from the content of the letter – they knew Martin was experiencing some challenges in life and may have wanted to escape.

Roberts was last seen around noon that day, near the Convocation Center at Appalachian State University.

About two months after his disappearance, former Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford provided an update on the case, saying, “We have looked for signs of life such as financial transactions, social media use and an extensive list of other investigative steps. We have also focused attention on the fact that he could be deceased. We have searched area lakes and many acres of wooded areas around where Martin lived and in areas that he was known to have visited by Martin. After two months we still do not have any positive indicators as to his whereabouts.”

A year after Roberts went missing, his father, John, said some “coping” had gotten better for he and his wife, Abbie, but called it a “temporary Band-Aid on a serious wound.”

Friends and family gathered in Gastonia, near where many of Martin’s family members lived at the time, to come together in fellowship, comfort, and prayer, to mark the year passing since they’d heard from him.

“It’s tough,” John Roberts said. “There are moments that it just overcomes you and you just have to push through it.”

A Facebook page titled “Help Find Martin Roberts” now has nearly 16,000 members, as family and friends continue to add updates and encouraging posts. In a post at the top of the page, John presented the “facts as [they] know them,” detailing Martin’s appearance, highlights from the investigation and other details.

A missing poster compiled by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children presents an age-progressed picture of Roberts. Another poster from the Boone Police Department includes an “up to $10,000 reward” for information leading to Roberts’ safe return.

Earlier today, Abbie Roberts posted to the Help Find Martin Roberts Facebook page, saying “Today is a very sad day, as it marks 5 years since Martin disappeared. Even as I write this, I can’t wrap my mind around that fact. It simply doesn’t seem possible. While we still have no idea where he may be, we continue to believe that every day brings us one day closer to Martin coming home. We’d also like to thank each and every one of you for the support, kind words and especially the prayers for Martin and for the whole family. We are humbled and forever grateful!”

Boone police say the investigation is still active. Anyone with information about Roberts’ disappearance is asked to call the department at (828) 268-6900.