Michael Dillard is a spunky, funny, and beloved fifteen year old boy living in West Virginia.
Michael lived with his adoptive parents in Calvin, WV and lived only a few miles away from his older sister, Brittany, who was one of his closest friends. His family members describe Michael as a “sweet, funny, loving, and silly” kid, who had his whole life ahead of him. Michael had his own personal struggles, unfortunately.
Michael struggled with bouts of severe depression. His depression was so severe, according to family members, that he had previously spent nearly a year in a hospital that specializes in children and adolescents with mental health issues. He was reportedly learning to cope with his mental health issues and was seemingly doing better at the time of his disappearance.
After school on January 12, 2018, Michael and his mother visited his sister, Brittany.
Brittany explained in previous interviews that Michael was in a “weird mood” when they came to visit. Brittany further explains in an interview with Dateline, “he came over to my house and would hardly talk to me. He was acting kind of down”. This description contrasts greatly from her description of the previous days. In the same interview, Brittany explains that January 10, only two days earlier when he was in a “really good mood”, Michael told her that he was having “the best day of his life”, before further explaining with excitement that he had spent time with a friend and gone to church.
Michael and his mother leave Brittany’s home at 4:30 pm and travel back to their home in Calvin, WV. When they get back to their house, Michael helps his mother unload wood from the back of her car and bring it into the house. Once they finish unloading the trunk around 5:00 pm, without any warning, and seemingly for no reason, Michael runs off behind the house and into a wooded area. This is the last time Michael is seen. According to Brittany, he only had $2 in cash in his pockets and he did not take his phone with him.
Within minutes, Michael’s mother calls her husband and Brittany to ask if they could come help find Michael. When they are unable to find him after searching for a while, Michael is reported missing to local police. Sometime between 4:30-5:00 pm, a neighbor reported seeing Michael walking alongside Tioga Road in Craigsville, WV. This sighting has not been verified by authorities.
The search for Michael begins.
Searches for Michael began almost immediately, but a storm rolling through the area caused the search to conclude later into the evening, though searches continued the following morning. In the weeks and months following Michael’s disappearance, authorities utilized dive teams, search crews, bloodhounds, and even helicopters in their efforts to locate Michael.
"There have been a few people saying they've seen someone who looks like him since his disappearance," she said. "But none of those tips have amounted to anything, and we haven't gotten any more in the last few days." - Brittany Craft, Michael’s sister.
Around a week and a half after Michael vanished, his orange jacket was found approximately 300 yards away from his home. In Brittany’s interview with Dateline, she explains “it wasn’t muddy, it wasn’t ripped. It looked like he had just taken it off”. This jacket is the only piece of evidence that has been found in the search for Michael.
“[The jacket] could have either been planted there later -- because that area had already been searched -- or there’s also a phenomenon that occurs during hypothermia where people start to undress, because the body tricks you into thinking you’re warm.” - John Bonazzo, Private Investigator.
Where the case stands today.
Today, more than four years after Michael’s disappearance, his case remains unsolved and authorities continue desperately searching for answers. Michael is described as a Caucasian male with brown hair and hazel eyes. At the time of his disappearance, Michael was 5’5 tall, weighed approximately 133 lbs and would be 19 years old today.
Michael was last seen wearing red Nike shoes, jeans, a nylon shirt, red and black Deadpool socks, and a cross necklace. He may have had a teen Bible and a pen light with him at the time of his disappearance. He has a scar above his left eye, a quarter-sized scar on top of his right hand, and scars on his arms from self-inflicted wounds. Michael has very poor vision and usually wears glasses, but was not wearing them at the time of his disappearance.
"We are absolutely clueless on where he may be," Craft said. "This isn't like him, at all." - Brittany Craft, Michael’s sister.
There is currently a $3,000 reward for information leading to Michael’s safe return. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has reported that Michael may still be in the local area or he may be in North Carolina. They add in their reports that he may be in need of immediate medical attention. If you have any information, please contact the West Virginia State Police at (304) 872-0800 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).