The search for Michael Gorley: Group gathers to search for Gorley remains

Published 11:56 am Sunday, February 12, 2017

It’s been nearly two years since Sandra Hasty has been on the receiving end of one of her son’s “bear hugs,” nearly two years since she’s seen his smile or heard his voice.

16508150_1197631857001929_8726497550908264461_nOn Saturday, more than 40 volunteers turned out to help look for Gorley, gathering at the Boyle County Fire Department on Airport Road before heading out to a wooded area in Lincoln County. They were joined by members of the Ohio Chapter of Texas Equusearch, which was leading the search.

“We will have one of two outcomes today,” said Dave Rader, director for the Ohio Chapter of Texas Equusearch, as he addressed the volunteers before sending them out. “Either we will know where he’s at or we’ll make sure where he’s not.”

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Gorley was last seen at about 9 p.m. on May 17, 2015, at a house at 5050 Knob Lick Road/Ky. 300, east of Junction City.

The people that were at the house told family and law enforcement that Gorley left walking toward Junction City, according to a May 28, 2015 article. He left his shoes and hat behind, wearing only teal and white Hawaiian-style swimming trunks.

Gorley would be 40 now.

Kendra Peek/

Kendra Peek/

Rader laid out the ground rules to those gathered to help early Saturday morning at the Boyle County Fire Department on Airport Road. The department served as a command center, a place where volunteers signed in and out, received their directions, and more.

“No cellphone use. No pictures,” he said.

Rader explained later that was to ensure that nothing showed up on social media before the proper authorities had a chance to inspect what it was.

Other directions included moving together in a line; keeping eyes moving from “9 o’clock to 3 o’clock” and focused on the ground; and if something was found to alert those in charge and stay with it while the rest of the group continues on.

“We don’t want anything missed. This is a marathon, not a race,” Radar said.

Searchers were told to be looking for bones. Rader asked Hasty, before making that announcement, something she said she was prepared for.

This is not the first search for Rader or his group. Last weekend, they were in Missouri. A few weeks ago, Hazard, Kentucky. It seems there’s always somewhere that needs the help of a group like Texas Equusearch, he said. They helped in the search for the remains of a couple last year and of Whitney Copley, found in Dunnville last fall. Copley’s family came to help search on Saturday.

There are about 40 members of the Ohio Chapter, which Rader calls “one of the best” search groups out there. When needed, they can bring in drones, and more.

In cases like the search for Michael Gorley, or what happened to him, Rader said it was best to simply put boots on the ground.

Kendra Peek/ Sandra Hasty, mother of Michael Gorley, hugs her son-in-law, Charles Coffey before he heads out to search.

Kendra Peek/
Sandra Hasty, mother of Michael Gorley, hugs her son-in-law, Charles Coffey before he heads out to search.

And the boots came out; Rader called the turnout “unheard of.”

“I applaud you all. This is what a community does,” he said.

Volunteers included members of the Boyle County and Junction City Fire departments, of which Hasty’s son-in-law is a member, family, friends, friends of friends, and people who just wanted to help.

Hasty said she was “overwhelmed” at the support. She was unable to search, and said she would “be on my knees praying all day.”

She also spent it looking at photos and sharing stories about her son, who she called “one of the best-hearted people you would ever want to meet.”

Gorley, she said, was very protective of her and his little sister Jennifer Coffey, who searched alongside the other volunteers.

An almost-Christmas baby, Gorley was born on Dec. 22, 1976. Hasty was 17 when she had him. He loved football, playing for the Boyle County Rebels all four years of school. He also enjoyed working, Hasty said, and had worked with bulldozers, had been a tree trimmer, and had even helped rebuild the Versailles Castle.

“Michael was always working,” she said.

He was also a father; one daughter is now in college and the other is 11-years-old.

Hasty has shared her son’s story around the world. It’s on about 30 different missing person sites from a variety of countries, she said.

Kendra Peek/

Kendra Peek/

But after two years of nothing, Hasty said she thinks she knows the outcome. Now she just wants to bring her son home and hoped Saturday would be the day.

But it wasn’t. The search ended about 4 p.m., and no sign of Gorley was found.

It doesn’t have to end there, Rader said. While his team may not be able to return for a while, volunteers can organize another search, he said.

Unfortunately, he said, the search for the missing “never ends.”

“It’s an epidemic,” Rader said. Especially in Kentucky, where he said they seem to spend a great deal of their time.

Kendra Peek/ ATVs and cars leave the Boyle County Fire Department on Airport Road, heading to search Michael Gorley, who has been missing since May 17, 2015.

Kendra Peek/
ATVs and cars leave the Boyle County Fire Department on Airport Road, heading to search Michael Gorley, who has been missing since May 17, 2015.

A mom of another missing person was there, supporting Hasty through the day. Mary Sargent, whose daughter Linda Price went missing just weeks after Gorley, spent the day at the station with Hasty.

Equusearch may also be organizing to help Sargent look for Price, but that’s in the early planning stages. To plan a search requires getting the permission of property owners and working with law enforcement.

Hasty said she was grateful for Sargent for attending.

Sargent and Hasty have become part of each other’s support systems, as they’ve gone through the experience together, an experience that continues for the mothers who wake up wondering where their children have gone.

The not knowing what happened is hard, Sargent said, because they want to hold out hope, in spite of the odds, and yet they also can’t grieve.

“You don’t know if this is the day that you find out, or if it’s the day you get a call from them, saying, ‘Mom, I’ve been … ,’” Sargent said, trailing off. “We all need closure.”

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter.

For more photos from Saturday, visit For more info on the Texas Equusearch Ohio Chapter, find them on Facebook.