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Marshals Service called in to help search

Friday, September 30, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

The U.S. Marshals Service is helping Lewisburg Police investigate its case of the missing evangelist who stepped away from his travel trailer at New Life Family Tabernacle for a morning walk.

"We contacted them to see if there was any assistance they could provide," Police Chief Chuck Forbis said about noon Thursday. "The federal agencies can sometimes get to records that we want to look at quicker than we can, for example banking records."

Meanwhile, "We still have no signs of foul play or anything like that," Forbis said.

David Dickinson, 49, was last seen on Monday at about 7:30 am., police say, asking people with information to call 359-4044.

At least two sightings were reported, but have not been confirmed.

"We've been to interview people at the storefronts and gas stations in Chapel Hill and nobody could confirm anything," Forbis said. "We have not been able to confirm anything from Cornersville, or any other location."

Dickinson is an evangelist who's been traveling from revival to revival for months. He and his family are originally from Kentucky.

His father, Richard Dickinson, 77, of Elkton, Ky., said he was driving from New Life Family Tabernacle on Wednesday to Columbia where the family planned to look at telephone records.

Tammy Dickinson, wife of the evangelist, said they were not able to access the records.

Depression and hope "comes and goes," Tammy Dickinson said. "We're just totally in the dark. We can't put the pieces together."

Scott Stiles is one of the ministers at the church on Fox Lane. Dickinson is in God's hands, he said.

"I think it's a God thing," Stiles said. "God's got his hand in it. He's got it under control. Everything is going to be fine."

Dickinson weighs 265 pounds and stands 5 feet 11 inches tall.

Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley described the two unconfirmed sightings.

* One was at about 8 a.m. Monday when someone fitting his description was reported walking on Cornersville Highway toward Lewisburg's public square.

* Another unconfirmed sighting was at about 3 p.m. Monday in Chapel Hill where he was seen on foot walking north along Nashville Highway, U.S. 31A.

He's been described as wearing a blue button-down shirt and gray pants, Henley said.

About 40 people searched woods, roads and paths in the vicinity of the New Life Family Tabernacle on Tuesday morning. Marshall County Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Hopkins put Belfast Fire Chief Ricky Cozart in charge of the search.

Cozart and Lewisburg Fire Chief Larry Williams used an aerial map downloaded from the Internet to keep track of what areas in a four to five mile area had been searched.

At about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Williamson advised nearly a dozen volunteers that the day's search had been called off for the time being. People were tired and hungry.

Asked if there was any way to know where Dickinson might be, Williams replied, "No, but we know where he isn't."

Up to that point, Henley heard nothing to indicate there is foul play involved in this missing person's case. Henley and other investigators were following up on the leads in Cornersville and Chapel Hill.

Dickinson, his wife and children have been traveling from one revival to another.

Asked if they have a fixed home, Tammy Dickinson, replied, "We just travel. We don't really have a home."

He'd delivered a sermon in Nortonville, Ky., before driving to Lewisburg. Here, he delivered two sermons on Sunday.