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New leads bring hope to missing man's mother

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WILSON — The mother of a man missing for more than a decade said recent action in the case gives her hope.

Travis Lamont Lynch, 21, vanished without a trace from southern Nash County on Christmas Eve 2003.

His mother, Jackie, has never given up. She said she knows her son is dead, but she wants his body returned to his family.

“He was still a child, really. He hadn’t had his license that long,” Jackie said. “He just got his car.”

That car, a 1990 Pontiac, disappeared along with Travis after he spent an evening with his girlfriend at a Bailey nightclub and her home just outside Middlesex.

Jackie said information being shared with the public now after so long has reinvigorated her desire to learn the truth.

Detectives with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed that Travis’ girlfriend, Carlisha Whitley, is a suspect in Travis’ missing person case.

“I always knew it, but it means something to see it in black and white,” Jackie said of regularly reading updates about the case. The Enterprise and Wilson Times have published articles about Travis’ case every week since the beginning of 2020.

For Whitley’s part, she contends she’s innocent and passed a polygraph test to prove it.

Either way, Jackie said she needs investigators to keep digging for the truth. But at the same time, the search can be painful.

Another suspect in Travis’s disappearance and probable death is his girlfriend’s uncle, Sean Whitley, currently serving federal prison time on crack cocaine trafficking convictions.

Jackie said since Whitley is well known to have been a drug dealer, folks assume Travis was as well.

“Just because Sean was into drugs doesn’t mean Travis was,” Jackie said. “When people say that to me, they don’t know Travis. Someone in my church really hurt my feelings saying that.”

Jackie said she talked to her pastor about it.

“Pastor said people talk, doesn’t mean I have to listen,” Jackie said.

Pastor Joseph Perry, of Union View Church on Old Smithfield Road northeast of Bailey, has prayed for Travis, Jackie and their family every day since Travis disappeared almost 6,000 days ago.

Anyone with information about Travis’ disappearance is asked to call Maj. Miste Strickland of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office at 252-532-4574. A reward of up to $20,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in the case.