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Randolph County's search for missing man stretches into its sixth month

Billy Douglas

The search continues for an East Alabama man who disappeared six months ago. Billy Douglas' family believes he was last seen on a boat with friends on Lake Wedowee. ABC 33/40 talked with private investigators about what searches like Douglas' involve.

Searching the waters at Lake Wedowee turned up nothing. First responders hoped to find Douglas.

His sister, Serenity Ward, was told Douglas jumped from a boat he was riding in with friends.

"It was not like him. It wasn't his personality. Even had that happened, Bill was a good swimmer. He grew up in the water," said Ward.

It was six months ago, on July 13, 2015, Ward and her family's world began to change.

"It feels like six years. It feels like a long time," said Ward.

The family stayed at the lake for one week watching search and rescue teams. Since then, the family has called the Randolph County Sheriff's Office, hounded investigators and state offices.

"We feel like in the beginning they did do everything within their power. Now, we just feel like everybody is indifferent. It's just some guy. He is not just some guy," added Ward.

Investigators continue to work the case and say they remain committed to following leads as they come.

Open missing persons cases exist for several law enforcement agencies throughout Central Alabama.

"People don't always vanish in front of a group, at a baseball game or like you see in a movie. Unfortunately, sometimes, there are no witnesses," said Dan Herrin of the Herrin Group Investigations.

Herrin spends a lot time, as a private investigator, talking to people and doing research to find someone.

David Clements, also a PI, showed ABC 33/40 some of the documents he's able to pull to in a search.

"PIs can devote their time 100% to your case file whereas law enforcement may have multiple cases going on," said Clements.

The private investigators acknowledge their method of searching for a missing person is different from an investigator's with a law enforcement agency. The PIs say the first step, even before hiring one of them, is to file a missing persons report with police.

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