Jared Hanna left his home in Jerseyville, Illinois around 11:30 am on Saturday, July 2, 2011. The 28-year-old was a single father of two, and much of his time was spent either working or taking care of his children. He had some time to himself this particular weekend because his daughters were visiting their mother in St. Louis, Missouri.
It’s unclear exactly what Jared planned to do that Saturday. When he left his house he took his fishing gear and some bait with him, so it seems likely that he was going to spend at least part of the day fishing. When he didn’t return home that night, his family wasn’t immediately concerned. Jared had mentioned going on a possible camping trip at some point; they thought perhaps he had decided to do so that weekend.
The first hint that something might be wrong came around midnight on July 4th, when Jared’s sister, Heather, got a call from Jared’s ex asking if he was home. She told Heather that Jared was supposed to pick up his daughters at some point on Sunday night but had failed to do so and she had been unable to get a hold of him on his cell phone.
Jared’s family was concerned but tried to remain positive. They hoped that Jared was still camping and had either lost track of time or was simply out of cell phone range and unable to notify anyone that he was running late. By Monday night, however, there was still no word from Jared and his family was getting increasingly worried with each passing hour.
On Tuesday, Jared’s mother, Pat New, received a phone call that seemed to confirm the family’s fears that something had happened to Jared. The 1990 GMC Sierra Jared had been driving had been found abandoned in a rural area of Clinton County, Illinois, roughly 70 miles from Jared’s Jerseyville home.
A deputy with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department had first spotted the truck on the side of Jolliff Bridge Road when he was driving home early Sunday morning, but he hadn’t really paid too much attention to it at the time. When he drove that way again on Tuesday and saw that the truck was still sitting in the same spot, the deputy decided to investigate to make sure it wasn’t stolen. The truck was registered to Pat; when the deputy called her, he learned that her son had been driving the truck and was now missing.
As soon as Jared’s family heard that his truck had been found abandoned, they filed a missing person report with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. While officials with that department started investigating the area where the truck had been found, detectives with the Jersey County Sheriff’s Department started trying to determine where Jared had gone after he left his home late Saturday morning.
Jared was seen on surveillance footage stopping at a Jerseyville Amoco station around 11:45 am on Saturday; he went inside, paid cash for a soda, and left. His cell phone pinged off a cell tower in East Alton, Illinois around 12:30 pm, indicating that Jared had headed south when he left the gas station. From there, he headed for the Centralia area. Around 9:30 pm, he called his ex-wife to check in on his daughters; he was still in Centralia at that time, though he didn’t give his ex any details about what he was doing there.
Jared had once worked in Centralia and was familiar with the area. According to his sister, some of Jared’s old co-workers had told him about some private land there where he could go fishing; since Jared had his fishing gear with him when he left the house, it seems likely that he went to one of these fishing spots. Investigators went to each of the areas where he might have gone but were unable to find any clues to his whereabouts.
When Jared’s truck was found, it was out of gas. Detectives assumed that Jared had set out on foot after running out of gas and canvassed the area looking for anyone who might have seen him. They found one potential witness who described seeing someone matching Jared’s description walking along Jolliff Bridge Road early Sunday morning; since the witness said this person was carrying a gas can, investigators believed it was most likely Jared. Heather, however, isn’t so sure. The witness stated that the man he saw was wearing a wifebeater, something that Heather said her brother never would have worn.
Residents of a trailer on College Road in Centralia claimed that a man they believed was Jared knocked on their door around 8:30 am Sunday and asked for directions to Casey’s General Store, which was more than five miles away. They told detectives that the man also asked for a drink of water; he drank two glasses and then went on his way.
Jared’s loved ones were adamant that he never would have disappeared voluntarily. He was a dedicated father to his two daughters and had a steady job. Although it wasn’t easy being a single father, his family was very supportive and Heather watched the girls for him whenever he had to go out of town for work. His mother noted, “He wouldn’t just leave, no matter how tough it was. He loved his girls more than anything.”
Desperate to find Jared, his family made missing person flyers and spent Wednesday handing them out in Clinton County near where his truck had been found. They pleaded for anyone with any information to contact them or police.
The week passed without any word from Jared. On Saturday, July 9th, the family organized a search of the Jolliff Bridge Road area, hoping to find some clue as to what had happened to Jared. While volunteers searched the ground using ATVs and horses, an airplane flew overhead looking for anything they might have missed. They found no clues as to what had happened to Jared. Heather told reporters, “It isn’t like my brother to just disappear…we’re just really worried and want him home.”
Jersey County Sheriff Mark Kallel admitted to reporters that they didn’t have a lot of information to go on. “We are continuing our efforts…we’re doing everything we can think of but we’re not getting too far.”
Cell phone records indicated that Jared hadn’t used his phone since the night he went missing; it had last pinged off a cell tower in Centralia at 9:30 pm. After that, it had either been turned off or the battery had died, and investigators had been unable to ping its location. Search dogs had been brought to Jolliff Bridge Road but had been unable to pick up Jared’s trail. Just a week into the investigation, the case was already in danger of going cold.
The lack of information was hard on Jared’s loved ones. Pat admitted, “You just feel so lost, just helpless.” Heather agreed. “We are exhausted and just emotionally drained right now…none of us are getting any sleep at all.”
Two weeks into the investigation, little progress had been made. According to Clinton County Sheriff Mike Kreke, there had been no further sightings of Jared after he supposedly stopped and asked for water and directions. After that, his trail went cold. It would remain cold for the next three months.
On October 10, 2011, a black shoulder bag belonging to Jared was found on the banks of Crooked Creek, about a mile and a half away from where his truck had been found on Jolliff Bridge Road. The bag contained Jared’s wallet, cell phone, video camera, tools, and keys; some of his clothing and a pair of shoes were found nearby. Family members positively identified the items as belonging to Jared.
The discovery of Jared’s belongings jumpstarted the investigation. The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department conducted a search of the Crooked Creek area; deputies, volunteers, and cadaver dogs spent hours combing along the creek bed and surrounding area but failed to find anything else related to the investigation.
By January 2012, the case had started to stall. In an effort to bring in some new tips, Clinton County Crimestoppers announced that they were offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Jared. Clinton County Chief Deputy Sheriff Mark Etter noted, “We are hoping that this reward may bring someone forward so that we have a direction to focus our resources.” Few tips came in, however, and the investigation soon went cold.
Jared’s family marked the grim first anniversary of his disappearance in July 2012. The passage of time hadn’t made dealing with his loss any easier; Pat told one reporter, “It’s hard. We miss him and his girls miss him.” Heather had taken on the responsibility of caring for Jared’s two daughters in his absence; they were too young to fully comprehend the situation and still thought about their dad every day.
A candlelight vigil for Jared was held at Lion’s Club City Park in Jerseyville on July 2, 2012. Around 50 people gathered to honor Jared and remember the good times they had with him. Pat noted, “Are we worried? Most definitely. Do we want him home? Yes, 100 percent and we don’t care how…we want closure. It will be total turmoil until the day we find him.”
Detectives remained completely baffled by Jared’s disappearance, but Chief Deputy Etter said he was hopeful that the publicity surrounding the anniversary would bring in some new leads. “We are doing all that we can and anytime we hear something, we check it out.” Sadly, no new leads were developed.
Over the next decade, there would be a number of additional searches for Jared but no new evidence was found and his fate remained a mystery, with detectives unable to rule out any possible scenario in his disappearance.
Jared’s family has always believed he was a victim of foul play, and they may be right. Oddly, Jared’s truck wasn’t initially kept as potential evidence and was immediately released to his family by the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. There were a couple of things about the truck that bothered Jared’s loved ones. Although detectives believed that the truck had been abandoned after running out of gas, it started up immediately after Jared’s family put some gas in it. According to a mechanic Heather spoke with, if the truck had truly run out of gas, it would have been impossible to start it without priming the gas pedal a few times to get the fuel back into the fuel system. Because of this, Jared’s family believes that someone might have deliberately left the truck there and then siphoned the fuel out of the truck to make it look as if it had run out of gas.
Jared had his guitar and amplifier in his truck when he went missing but they were no longer there when the truck was recovered and they have never been found. According to Heather, the inside of the truck looked as if it had been ransacked, making robbery a potential motive in the case.
Sadly, Jared’s mother died in 2020 without learning what had happened to her beloved son. Heather, who adopted both of Jared’s girls after his disappearance, has never stopped searching for her brother and is determined to learn what happened to him. She — and Jared’s daughters, who are now teenagers — deserve answers.
Jared Hanna was 28 years old when he went missing from Centralia, Illinois in July 2011. He was a dedicated father of two young daughters and his family doesn’t believe he willingly abandoned them. Jared has brown hair and brown eyes, and at the time of his disappearance, he was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 195 pounds. He has a scar on the back of his head and one on the heel of his right foot. He was last seen wearing a T-shirt, jean shorts, and sneakers. If you have any information about Jared, please contact the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department at 618–594–4555 or Clinton County Crimestoppers at 618–594–6666. A $5,000 reward is available for information leading to Jared’s location or the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for his disappearance.