Missing Parkersburg man subject of search

MARIETTA – The search for a missing Parkersburg man broadened to the Ohio and Muskingum rivers Monday after more than a week of searching the Marietta area turned up no clues of his whereabouts.

The search for the body of Carl Austin Travis, 22, started with three cadaver-sniffing dogs separately indicating on the same area near the bank of the Ohio River, said Capt. Jeff Waite of the Marietta Police Department.

However, multiple agencies, searching more than eight hours, did not turn up the body of Travis, said Waite.

“This area has been pretty much worked. Everything was very thoroughly checked,” he said, referring to the area surrounding a concrete dock just south of the Lafayette Hotel.

Travis was last seen checking into the Lafayette Hotel on Feb. 12, said Waite. Before that, the department can confirm that he was at The Galley earlier in the evening, he said.

“He came up here to go to a bar and he did,” said Waite.

However, Travis was not officially declared missing until Feb 22, the day he failed to return to his Navy ship, the Halliburton, stationed in Jacksonville Fla., said Waite.

Since then, the Marietta Police Department has thoroughly searched the area, talked to witnesses and attempted to find Travis on surveillance footage.

Though there were no tips to indicate the body of Carl Austin Travis, 22, might be in one of the rivers, the expanded search was the next logical step in the search for the man, said Waite.

“He’s nowhere else that we know of. We’ve had no sightings. We’ve had no information come whatsoever. He left his car (at the Lafayette),” said Waite.

The Marietta Police Department was assisted in its search by the Marietta Fire Department, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources and the Little Hocking, Warren and Williamstown volunteer fire departments, said Chief C.W. Durham of the Marietta Fire Department.

“We are able to do sonar imaging. We searched a cross section of the Ohio and the Muskingum,” said Durham. The boats scanned from the Williamstown Bridge to the first island south of the confluence on the Ohio River and up the Muskingum River to the point of the Marietta Boat Club, said Waite.

The sonar did not detect anything, said Durham.

However, three dogs, provided by West Virginia K-9 Search & Rescue, all indicated on the same area, a concrete dock just south of the Lafayette Hotel.

The dogs are trained to bark when they hit on certain scents that emanate from a human cadaver, said K-9 chief Steve Shanklin, of Charleston.

Around 10 a.m., K-9 Eli, a German shepherd, began barking repeatedly and even jumped into the water between the dock and shore.

A few minutes later, K-9 Harley, a golden retriever, was brought to the dock and indicated on the same spot.

The third dog, K-9 Cricket, later indicated on the same spot when the boat she was working on was brought near the dock, said Waite.

“This was the spot they’re telling us we needed to be looking,” he said.

Crews used long poles to feel under the dock and a camera lowered into the water showed nothing.

Divers from the Marietta Search and Rescue Dive Team searched the area under the dock for about an hour Monday evening, but also turned up nothing, said Waite.

The rivers were possibly the last places left to search for Travis, said Waite.

Unless new information surfaces, the department will likely tie up loose ends and conclude its search, said Waite.

“We need information. If anyone should have happened to see him, we need to know. Otherwise we don’t have anything to go on,” he said.

Travis is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and has brown hair with blue eyes.

Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Marietta Police at (740) 373-4141.