Student who vanished near ASU still missing 3 years later

James Martin Roberts
James Martin Roberts(Photo provided to WBTV | Photo provided to WBTV)
Published: Apr. 22, 2019 at 3:25 PM EDT
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BOONE, NC (WBTV) - Sunday marked three years since a then 19-year-old disappeared near Appalachian State University with no transportation and no money.

It was around noon on April 21, 2016 when James Martin Roberts left his apartment to go to a friend’s apartment. Roberts took a shortcut and walked through the campus of Appalachian State University, where he was last spotted. Roberts was also possibly seen in the Trout Lake area of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Roberts lived in Boone, with roommates who later reported him missing, and was taking online classes at Caldwell Community College at the time of his disappearance. Roberts attended ASU the previous year but took a semester off. His family said he had plans to be back at Appalachian in the fall.

“We have no idea what happened to him, where he might have gone, anything,” said Boone Police Sgt. Matt Stevens.

Officials used a helicopter to search for Roberts after he was reported missing but never found him. Investigators say Roberts left a note behind that indicated he may be leaving, but say he took no money.

Roberts did not have a car or bicycle, so if he went any distance, authorities believe he had to have help. So far, no one has come forward.

“To Martin – If you see this, please come home or contact us. We love you. – Mom and Dad,” his parents released in a statement in 2016, hoping Roberts would see it and attempt to make contact.

Roberts is described as a white male around 5′10″ and 145 lbs. He was last seen wearing a black, short-sleeve Appalachian State windbreaker, khaki shorts, gray New Balance shoes and a white golf visor hat.

Boone police say they’ve received several tips, but nothing has led to finding the missing Kernersville man.

“It’s frustrating for everyone involved,” said Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford as she described the feeling among detectives and family as the one-year anniversary of Roberts’ disappearance approached.

If you are in contact with Roberts, police ask that you tell him to contact his family, "they love him and want him back."

“We have learned that there are periods of time where Martin’s whereabouts cannot be accounted for by his friends and roommates,” Crawford said in 2016. “This has led us to believe that there is a person in this community who has knowledge of Martin Roberts, but who may be hesitant to come forward. This person would have spent time with Martin during the weeks prior to Martin’s disappearance,” Crawford said.

Anyone with information about Roberts’ whereabouts, hangout spots, or people he may be with is asked to call the Boone Police Department at 828-268-6900, or High Country Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959 or 828-737-0125.

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