Evangelist, dairyman remain missing

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Parents, siblings, the wife and children of the missing evangelist who spoke at a Lewisburg church 11 days ago have returned to their homes in other states and a week after he disappeared, the evangelist's father acknowledged what would appear to be an obvious conclusion.

"The authorities do feel he just walked away," Robert Dickinson of Guthrie, Ky., said Monday morning about his son, David Dickinson, 49, who'd been traveling with his wife, Tammy, and their children from one revival to another. "It's because he left his ID and credit cards behind. He may have had a few dollars in his pocket."

Tammy Dickinson's father, Lynn George of Texas, drove his daughter's pickup truck - towing a camper trailer - to the Georges' family home last weekend as her in-laws left for Kentucky.

The evangelist has never walked away before, his father said.

That's not so of Tom Johnson of the Berlin Community, according to his brother Carl.

"Years ago, he stayed with some people in Columbia for a while," Carl Johnson said over the weekend. "Some of the people (Tom Johnson) stayed with weren't the most desirable kind, so we're just still waiting" for the dairyman to return.

Finding his brother's Columbia associates won't be easy, Carl Johnson said. He thinks one is dead. The others move from one place to another and Tom Johnson would stay with one and then another in that circle of associates.

"It's a bad situation," the brother said of no information since Aug. 29.

Thomas Johnson, 54, suffered a childhood illness that almost killed him when his brain was swollen, according to his brother, Carl Johnson, a dairy farmer with some 300 acres near Lewisburg's Ellington Airport.

Meanwhile, at New Life Family Tabernacle on Fox Lane where the Dickinson travel trailer was parked for nearly a week, the Rev. Tim Atkisson recalled this Sunday's service.

"It was kind of somber," the senior minister said. "This is a first. You don't train for this.

"Someone said they didn't feel the search lasted long enough, but you can report that I said, 'The searchers did an excellent job.'

"There was no evidence of foul play, so they had to wrap it up," the minister said.

Dickinson probably isn't in Marshall County any more, the minister said.

He and others at the church have thought about the authorities' view - the one expressed by the evangelist's father - that Dickinson just ran off.

"Think it? Yes," he said. "We've looked at all the scenarios. Nothing makes sense. He came in for a two-day revival.

"I believe he did just walk away, but I have no reason to believe that," Atkisson said.

During a soul-searching telephone interview with Robert Dickinson on Monday, the evangelist's father acknowledged that suicide might be one reason his son is missing, but like others, it's one of the possibilities that must be considered.

"That, I cannot answer," he said when asked if that was a possibility, but he wouldn't rule it out only because it is an answer.

Traveling for weeks in a truck towing a trailer with no fixed home probably had stressful moments, he said.

David Dickinson preached morning and evening services on Sept. 25 and would have preached there the next day.

Then on that Monday morning, "after a night of restless sleep, he disappeared," Robert Dickinson said. "He went for a walk.

"I don't think there were problems with the family... He had a deep love for his children and wife, but in that occupation, there was stress."