It has been more than seven years since Beth Lund last spoke to her son Benjamin.
It was not a good conversation. Lund said Benjamin was angry with her and his stepfather.
“If I had only called him right back, something different might have happened,” she said. “That is the madness of it all.”
Benjamin’s parents have not heard from him since he went missing in June 2005. In the face of a continuously decreasing chance that they will ever learn what happened to him, the Lunds and a national advocacy group for missing persons are offering a temporary reward of $15,000 for information that would lead to his location.
The CUE Center for Missing Persons will start accepting tips Monday. For 20 days, the nonprofit organization and the Lund family will offer the reward.
Caseworker Debora Hobbs stressed that information will be accepted with no questions asked.
Though Killeen Police Department accepts anonymous tips all the time, Hobbs said people with information about Benjamin’s disappearance might feel more comfortable providing information to her organization.
Lund said her son had been mixed up with a bad crowd. He was an active drug user.
As far as she has been able to determine, Benjamin was last seen June 16, 2005, leaving a party on Wood Avenue with a man. The man returned to the party a few hours later, and Benjamin has not been seen in Killeen since.
Police later located his car on the street where the party took place. Lund said police attempted to interview the man who was with Benjamin when they left the party, but he never cooperated.
“There’s no evidence of foul play,” she said. “It’s hard to call it a crime.”
Killeen police helped the Lund family draft a letter about the limited time reward and had it sent to select individuals they knew to associate with Benjamin.
In 2012, the Killeen Police Department received 83 reports of missing individuals. Police spokeswoman Carroll Smith said most of those people returned shortly after they were reported missing.
Sometimes a missing report is as simple as a spouse not returning home on time. Smith recalled one in which a man went missing for days. Investigators later learned he had been stranded in another city with car trouble.
KPD does not require people to be missing for 24 hours before a person is reported missing. They will prioritize certain reports, such as a missing child or disabled person. But all reports are investigated.
“We put it out to the patrol, and they look for anything that comes with that report,” Smith said.
Benjamin was 19 when he disappeared. He would be 26 today. He is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and was sometimes known as “Slim Jim.” At the time of his disappearance, he weighed 165 pounds.
The Lunds have exhaustively pursued Benjamin’s whereabouts.
Billboards with his face on them remain placed around town. They have hired private investigators and sought help from multiple law enforcement agencies. So far, they have turned up nothing.
“We just have to hold out for that hope,” Beth Lund said. “It’s just what makes you continue to look.”
To make an anonymous tip to the CUE Center for Missing Persons, call (910) 232-1687. The $15,000 reward begins Monday and runs through March 23.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553