In a local case worthy of the classic television show Unsolved Mysteries, the apparent disappearance of then 58-year-old Joseph Christopher Cowart of Hope has his daughter, now living in North Carolina, wondering if he will ever be found or what became of him.
In a local case worthy of the classic television show Unsolved Mysteries, the apparently disappearance of then 58-year-old Joseph Christopher Cowart of Hope has his daughter, now living in North Carolina, wondering if he will ever be found or what became of him.
A case update on Cowart, along with two other notable missing persons, was published in the Hope Star earlier this year with law enforcement officials appealing for help and statements that the cases were still ongoing. Cowart has been missing since 2012.
Jackie Neumann, now a 38-year old mother and nurse, still wonders what happened, and said she suspects foul play may have occurred.
“It is really unbelievable because you just never think of something like this happening with one of your relatives,” Neumann said.
Neumann explained that Cowart was her biological father, who put her up for adoption when she was young, but she knew him and maintained as relationship with him. She added that she last saw Cowart in person when he attended her 2004 wedding, but had regular contact with him over the years.
Cowart, she said, served in the Navy on submarines when she was young, and he eventually retired, lived in rural Hope, and is still receiving a military pension.
“It doesn’t make sense. From speaking with the local police, I believe they have worked hard in the investigation and tried to resolve the case, but it has been over five years now as a ‘missing person.’ I have to wonder why it hasn’t been a homicide investigation,” Neumann said, but admitting, “I know no body has been found, but I know he just didn’t vanish into thin air.”
Joseph Christopher Cowart, more informally known as “Chris Cowart” according to Neumann, was reported missing on May 15, 2012 in Hope. Previously known information about the case documents that Hempstead County deputies were dispatched to Cowart’s residence five days later on May 20, in reference to Cowart’s uncle not being able to make contact him for several days.
Cowart was described as a white male, 6’ tall, 195 lbs., brown hair, and brown eyes, and Neumann added that “he was not in the best of physical shape that I recalled,” and she believed he was taking medications.
Neumann described Cowart as “somewhat of a loner.”
“He didn’t really have much of a social circle or many friends that I recall. He really kind of kept to himself. Still, in a small town like Hope, it is hard for me to believe that no one saw him or knew what happened to him,” Neumann said.
Police reports from the time document that Cowart’s uncle said “that he went to Cowart’s residence located at 3096 Highway 174 South around 1730 hours, knocked on his door and got no answer. He said that he left the residence and returned home to attempt to contact Cowart by telephone.”
Reports also say that Cowart’s truck was still parked under the carport, and the doors to the house and truck were locked. In a search around the yard and check of the buildings around the house, Cowart was not located.
It was unknown how Coward was dressed at the time of his disappearance.
The uncle said that Cowart’s truck was still parked under the carport. The uncle entered the house and observed that Cowart was not in it. They walked around the yard and checked the buildings around the house but Cowart was no where to be found.
Neumann said she has been in contact with investigators, and she confirmed the same details of the previously published reports.
“I don’t think he just ran off somewhere or that there was some kind of random incident. There was no robbery or break-in. The doors to the house and truck were locked, and I never heard any indications of a struggle,” she said.
Neumann said that given Cowart’s limited social contacts that she believed “he left the house with someone he knew, someone he trusted.”
She noted that Cowart often ate at out of town restaurants, in which she specifically named “Hooters” as one of his more frequent destinations. Three Hooters restaurants in the region are in Texarkana, Bossier City, and North Little Rock.
With the passing of five years, Neumann now says he believes foul play may have been involved in her father’s disappearance, although she doesn’t know exactly what happened.
“Again, I believe he had to have gone off with someone, someone that he knew; someone that may have picked him up in a car or truck. And, leaving his own home and truck locked and secure, he left with someone on this own, thinking he was eventually coming back,” Neumann said.
Neumann also noted other details such as laundry that needed to be done and the lack of disruption inside the house, or any indications that Cowart had packed or taken a long term trip.
She also said that Cowart’s pension is still being direct deposited and “untouched.”
“At this point, I just want to know what happened. It has been a shock, and difficult to understand,” she said.