Still no answers for family, one year after Alabama woman vanished

Published 8:01 am Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Black family said goodbye last weekend to a beloved brother, Hubert Frank Black, 86, of Glencoe, who died Feb. 25.

His passing came just 10 days short of a year before family members at Black’s home in Glencoe said what they believed to be a temporary goodbye to his sister, Lorene Virginia “Dink” Black Collier.

That was March 5, 2019, and no one has seen Collier since.

Extensive searches — on foot and using drones and helicopters — have been conducted along the route Collier typically took when traveling from her brother Hubert’s house to her brother Herman “Bud” Black’s home on Lookout Mountain.

Glencoe Police Chief Alan Kelly said the searches turned up no sign of Collier or her car, a blue 2019 Kia Optima.

The police department alerted other agencies and has continued to follow up any leads that come in, but nothing has led to Collier’s location or any indication of what happened with her.

Barbara Jones is a double-cousin to the Black siblings, and she grew up as close as a sister to Collier. It’s been hard for her, not knowing what happened to her cousin and seeing the rest of the family agonizing over her fate.

“Everybody’s resigned,” Jones said, that there won’t be a happy outcome to the story. She said she believes now that her cousin Hubert knows the answer, and that he and Collier are together in heaven.

Collier lived in Florida, but she would drive to the Gadsden area periodically to visit with her brothers and help care for them.

She was at Hubert’s house in Glencoe on the evening of March 5, 2019, and left there to drive to Herman’s house. Family members believe she probably took the back way up the mountain on her way to her brother’s.

But she never arrived. And Herman and his family thought Collier just decided to stay at Hubert’s home for the night.

Unfortunately, Collier’s cellphone wasn’t working, or had been left at home. A phone was sent to her, but arrived the next day.

After her daughter and/or granddaughter were not able to reach her by phone, they called other family members in the Gadsden area, and the family realized that no one had seen or heard from the 84-year-old since she left Glencoe.

Jones said family members called her to see if, by chance, Collier had contacted her. Jones and her husband, Jerry, realized it was time to involve the police.

By the time they called Glencoe police, Kelly said, 18 hours had passed. Police searched everywhere they could think of — as family members had done before calling — and came up empty.

A missing person alert was issued by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and Glencoe police spread the word about Collier to other law enforcement agencies. Family members — some living in Texas and in Florida — spread the word through social media.

Over time, Kelly said, many leads were investigated, but no reported sightings were credible, and there’s been no trace of her car.

The chief said his department has done all its members can think of to do — that they continue to keep information about Collier out, hoping that keeping a description of her and her car in the public consciousness will lead to a break.

For family members, there is frustration and at times anger over the lack of answers, Jones said. She recently talked to Collier’s daughter, who had contacted the FBI, believing the agency was helping in the search. She was frustrated her to learn that the agency is apparently not involved in any effort to find Collier.

“It’s just so hard,” Jones said, not knowing what became of her cousin.

“We just need to know what happened,” she said, and to bring Collier home for a proper goodbye.