Tamaqua man still missing after one month
It was a bittersweet Labor Day holiday for Norma Jean Fritz of Jim Thorpe, who longs to see her son return home.
"Jesse's been missing four weeks," she said Tuesday.
After weeks of searching, there is still no word and no trace of Jesse Farber.
Family members continue to pursue additional information that might shed light on Farber's whereabouts, and Tamaqua police are open to any tips.
"We will never stop looking for him," said Fritz.
In a new development, volunteers from Northeast Search and Rescue lowered a camera into a deep air shaft on Sharp Mountain in Tamaqua a few days ago. The mountain is where some believe Farber disappeared on the evening of Aug. 11.
"They couldn't get it all of the way down," said Fritz.
The air shaft is the same place where, three weeks ago, officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection lowered a camera some 175 to 200 feet before a lens broke. Some mining voids on Sharp Mountain are believed to be several hundred feet deep.
The mystery has provided plenty of speculation but little in terms of actual clues.
Farber called his girlfriend in great distress on Tuesday, Aug. 11, and then vanished, seemingly into thin air.
According to Rachel Carroll, the conversation was brief.
Carroll said he sounded distraught, appealing for help.
He indicated he was in woods behind the school, presumably Sharp Mountain to the rear of Tamaqua Area High School.
Family members began searching almost immediately and reported his disappearance to police.
An official eight-hour search was launched Thursday, Aug. 13.
On Aug. 14, the official ground search was suspended for a day in order for police, search teams and volunteers to explore options, clarify available information and compare notes.
In the meantime, Farber's family and a large network of friends maintained momentum by spreading word of the disappearance and conducting their own searches using ATVs.
On Aug. 15, the official search resumed, another eight-hour ground search.
All of the searches were conducted in oppressive heat and humidity, with professionals and volunteers scouring ridges and valleys between Tamaqua and Walker Township.
They used K 9 units, a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter and a military chopper from the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Joining the task were Northeast Search and Rescue of Monroe County and the eastern state chapter of Pennsylvania Wilderness Search and Rescue, or PaWSAR.
In addition, dozens of ATVs, most privately owned, were deployed due to rugged terrain with paths far too narrow, steep and rocky for normal-sized vehicles.
After an all-out effort, the search for the missing father of two ended at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15.
However, on Sunday, Fritz organized another private search, once again deploying a large network of friends.
Fritz and her mother, Rae "Sweetie" Ferryman of New England Valley, distributed posters and Fritz offered a reward for information.
At this point, the family is still searching and appealing for information. They're holding out hope Farber will be found safe.
Fritz is understandably distraught.
"I don't want people to forget about him," she said.
She is asking the general public for help.
"If there was foul play, then somebody knows something," she said.
If that's the case, she is urging those parties to step forward, even if they want to do so anonymously.
Family members point out that many people know Farber by the name Jesse Rex.
Anyone with information of any kind pertaining to the disappearance of Farber is asked to call Fritz at 570-449-3985 or Tamaqua police, 570-668-5000.