AUGUSTA, W.Va. — It’s been seven months since Arlene Shelton has seen or spoken to her daughter. Cassie Sheetz, 24, hasn’t been seen since she apparently went for a hike with two friends in the area of Spruce Knob back in March.
Since then, it has been nothing but daily torture for Shelton.
“Every day I cry. Every day I see her picture and I bawl. I talk to her sister and I cry. I dream about her and I don’t want to wake up because it’s the only way I can see her,” Shelton told MetroNews.
This Sunday, friends and concerned residents plan to organize a search in the area of the Huckleberry Trail and the 274 Trail Head at Spruce Knob. Those are the last places the two companions of Cassie claimed to have seen her. Their stories to State Police have been suspicious, particularly to Shelton.
“I know my daughter. She would have never ventured off by herself. She is afraid of the dark. She’s also so loving and kind she would have never left a friend if she thought they were hurt,” she explained.
The two men, one a former boyfriend of Cassie, say they became separated after hearing a noise and then one of them fell. None of it added up to Shelton who has spoken with both men and isn’t satisfied they are revealing all they know. Nevertheless, State Police have followed all leads and nearly all of those leads have dried up.
Troopers have searched the area repeatedly with cadaver dogs, aerial searches, and foot patrols. There has been no sign of her.
“My motherly instinct tells me she’s not up there. I don’t think she’s there,” said Shelton.
But she’s going along with the search because it gets the case back into the media and it gives those who are concerned something to do. Many want to help, but don’t know how.
“All the substantial leads are running dry and the only thing we can think of now is to go up and do our own search. Not that we think we’re any better than the cops, but a lot of people have asked me about a search so that’s why we’re going ahead to do our own,” she explained.
The search party will gather in the upper parking lot of the 274 Trail Head at 9.am. on Sunday. Shelton is conflicted and in reality hopes they find nothing.
“I hope she’s alive. I hope she’s just somewhere and hasn’t been able to contact us. I cling to that hope,” she said.
But that hope has been as difficult as the reality. Shelton now turns her phone off at night. She’s been scammed on at least four occasions with people offering promising leads or demanding ransom for her daughter. At this point, she’s hardened to the scams and the social media gossip and opinion. She’s a tortured mother looking to find her child. The recent Gabby Petito case has brought new attention to the case and rekindled emotions for Shelton.
“It’s weird that it takes somebody being missing and found dead for everybody to notice all of these other missing children. There’s so many in West Virginia, it’s crazy,” she said.