You may not hear about it in the headlines every day, but the search for missing Lubbock woman Peggy Merimon is alive and well Wednesday night. And family members say the best Christmas gift they could receive is for Peggy to come home.
Merimon disappeared from the Lubbock State School with her co-worker Kay Harrelson in August 2006. Harrelson's body was found days later, but Peggy has yet to be found.
Sharon Cassel has been searching for Peggy Merimon on a weekly basis since she went missing 496 days ago. Cassel is not related to the Merimon's, in fact she had never met the family before Peggy went missing.
So what drives a person to spend 16 months searching for someone they never even knew? Sharon simply says she was called to do it.
For the past 16 months Sharon Cassel has searched high and low for Peggy Merimon.
"I just want to try and bring some closure to the family hopefully," says Cassel.
A family Cassel had never met until Peggy went missing August 9, 2006. After helping with the first search, Cassel says she couldn't quit.
In the 496 days since Peggy went missing, Cassel has covered thousands of miles, searched hundreds of hours and spent countless time researching maps and missing person cases on the Internet - all for a woman she never knew.
"I know her family and things they've told me about her. She's just another mother that's all. They just want to bring their mother home," says Cassel.
Cassel had hoped to do that last Christmas.
"I really like the family and want to help bring her home this Christmas if I can," says Cassel.
"We constantly pray every day. It's always on my mind no matter what I do, where I go, it's always on our mind," says Geral Merimon, Peggy's husband.
While the clock still ticks away, time has stopped for Geral Merimon.
"It doesn't get any easier. It's hard to explain. I am just trying to adjust living from day to day," says Geral.
Whether he's searching or working, Peggy's never far from his mind. Evident by the daily notes he leaves his wife on a board to let her know he has not forgotten.
It's Geral's hope that keeps Sharon searching week after week, month after month - hope that someday - Peggy can come home.
"I want to tell her I appreciate her very much. That she hasn't given up. I appreciate her very much for being there sticking it out for the long haul," says Geral.
"Helping other people is always worth it to me," says Cassel.
The investigation is ongoing but Lubbock Police tell us there is no new information that they can release at this time.
Witnesses say they saw Merimon and Kay Harrelson leave the Lubbock State School with a man who looks like the person in this sketch.
Back in April authorities revealed the man in question was now a suspect instead of simply a person of interest. Since the beginning we have chosen not to release the name as there have not been any charges or arrests.
If you have any information, you are urged to call Crime Line at (806) 741-1000. There is a $50,000 reward concerning this case.
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Peggy Merimon Search Timeline