A Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, father whose 20-year-old daughter vanished more than a month ago has written a poignant, inspiring open letter detailing the horror he’s been experiencing since his child went missing.
“I am living a nightmare,” Terry Elvis wrote in the letter to website XO Jane. “I am praying that I can soon wake up to the words, ‘We found your daughter. She is safe.’”
Heather Elvis, 20, was last heard from in the early morning hours of December 18, 2013, after returning home from a first date.
Her father wrote candidly about the fear that consumed him from the moment a police officer knocked on his door later that day and asked if he was missing a car.
Heather’s 2011 dark metallic green Dodge Intrepid had been found abandoned at the Peachtree Boat Landing in Myrtle Beach, about eight miles from her apartment. He said he frantically called his daughter’s cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail.
“The fear inside me at this point grew with each heartbeat, with each breath I took. But I still tried to swallow my gut to ward it off,” Terry Elvis wrote in the letter.
Terry Elvis described the sleepless nights wrestling with the lack of answers as to what happened to his daughter the day she vanished.
“Nightmares were now the only dread visited upon me if I could get to sleep at all,” he wrote. “When I fell asleep, it only lasted for a very short time before I jumped up crying -- and it became uncontrollable.”
Despite the agony Heather’s father has endured for the past month, he says he refuses to give up hope.
“The desire to find Heather and bring her home safe consumed my life now, there was no stopping. The word ‘quit’ did not exist for me on this task,” he said.
In the wake of his daughter’s disappearance, Terry Elvis says there’s one message he will continue to share:
“I tell every parent and every child to please be aware of your surroundings. Always call when you’re going to be away from loved ones. When you deviate from your plans, tell someone. Don’t take it for granted that the world is a safe place. If you decide that you have to stop for gas, tell someone that you are stopping for gas. Keep people aware of where you are. Always take a friend [or] two or three. Hold your loved ones close, tell them how much you love them every day. Never let them doubt how much love you have for them so that if you are ever in the position I am in, you will be able to look in the mirror with less regret.”
About 33 days ago, the foundation of Terry Elvis’ faith was shaken, but he says he’s still praying for a miracle.
“We will find my daughter,” he said. “We will find Heather Elvis.”
Anyone with information about Heather’s whereabouts can call Horry County police at 843-915-TIPS or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.