Overview of Ernest Vereen
Ernest L. Vereen went missing in Garden City, South Carolina on October 10, 1984. He owned and operated a mobile home park with his son, Alan, and lived in one of the mobile homes. He missed several appointments that day and left his car parked at his home. When his son checked the residence, the blinds were drawn and a basket had been spilled on the floor in the kitchen.
At 9:00 p.m., Alan got a phone call from someone who said they had kidnapped Ernest and left a ransom note in Alan's mailbox. Alan didn't open the box; he called the police instead. A police officer opened the mailbox and found an envelope containing Ernest's driver's license and a typewritten note threatening the family and demanding $250,000 within 48 hours.
Alan collected $75,000; the bills were marked and photocopied and their registration numbers were recorded. When the kidnapper called on October 13, Alan followed the directions given while wearing a recording device and under police surveillance. He was led to several different phone booths in Myrtle Beach and Conway, South Carolina. Finally, Alan was ordered to leave the money in a black garbage bag under a bridge on U.S. 501. The money was picked up by a 5'7 man with a white beard, who was later identified as Alvin Owens, a handyman who had worked for Ernest installing mobile homes.
Owens was arrested and charged with kidnapping, and later with Ernest's murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Owens claimed a terrorist group called "Weather Underground" was responsible for Ernest's kidnapping and they had forced him to write the ransom notes and collect the money.
Foul play is suspected in Ernest's disappearance due to the circumstances involved.