GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. – A metro family is fearing the worst as a week approaches since their loved one was last seen alive in Central America.
The family of Sherris Stringham said the 67-year-old was last seen Aug. 25 heading to her rental home in the coastal village of Hopkins in eastern Belize.
“I don’t have any answers right now,” her son Matthew Hall said. “It’s just really painful. This waiting game to find out.”
The Blue Springs native was enjoying retirement after decades of working as a school bus driver and cashier at a grocery store. Hall said she wanted to retire somewhere tropical and, a year ago, chose Belize after researching and visiting the country.
“She was very happy over there, sending me pictures every day of her hiking the waterfalls and enjoying the village,” Hall said.
On Sunday, when Stringham failed to show up to a softball game, her friends went to her rental to check on her and noticed something wasn’t right.
“They found the house ransacked, a wine glass half-full with her lipstick on and what appeared to be a white substance and her car was missing,” Hall said.
As FOX4’s Zac Summers was sitting with Hall on Thursday afternoon, the family received a message indicating that authorities had found Stringham’s green Nissan X-Terra abandoned along a dirt road.
“The license plates allegedly were taken off,” Hall said, reading the message. “Police source tells us that there was nothing inside the vehicle to assist them in locating Sherris Stringham.”
The family said authorities suspect foul play, which has them worried.
“I do believe she’s in danger or may be hurting or suffering,” Hall said. “From the evidence, that’s got to be the case.”
Stringham’s longtime friend, Joan Roark, is struggling to come to terms with what may have happened to the woman she considers a sister.
“It’s just hard to even imagine anything like this, that one would want to do anything to harm her,” Roark said.
They all want to believe that the mom of two is still alive, but they’re hope is fading with every passing day.
“She’s one of the most special people you will ever meet, ever,” Hall said. “I just want to hug her one more time.”
Hall said authorities in Belize are questioning four people in connection to his mom’s disappearance.
Stringham’s brother and sister-in-law also live in Belize.
The family has started a campaign on Go Fund Me to help cover the expenses of hiring a private detective.