Federal, state and local investigators combed a swath of Central Virginia on Monday following a trail of clues in the disappearance of a veteran Waynesboro police reserve captain.
That led to a lonely Louisa County road, where a man awakened to find a silver 1999 Toyota 4Runner he didn't recognize parked in his carport. He called police, who soon had another break in the search for Kevin W. Quick, 45, an auxiliary police officer who left his mother's Afton home late Friday and never returned.
Police searched the vehicle and scoured Cedar Hill Road with dogs, leaving shortly before 5 p.m., said Frank Houchens, who discovered the abandoned 4Runner at his home shortly after 9 a.m.
Quick left his mother's house less than 60 hours earlier, at 10:15 p.m. Friday, bound for a friend's home at Turtle Creek Condominiums in Albemarle County, police said.
"In the time he left his mother's residence in Afton and headed to his friend's residence in Albemarle County," state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, "he disappeared."
After Quick's family exhausted their resources searching for him, Geller said, they turned to the Nelson County Sheriff's Office and filed a missing person's report about 6 p.m. Saturday.
"There were pieces of evidence and information we had that made us concerned about his safety right off the bat," Geller said.
Police distributed two surveillance photos Sunday of an unidentified man wearing a hooded sweatshirt that partly covered his face. Surveillance cameras also captured images of Quick's 4Runner. One of the photos came Friday night from Fork Union while another came from Manassas the following day, Geller said.
Two men "have been connected to [Quick's] vehicle," Geller said.
State police working with local law enforcement throughout Central Virginia on Sunday fanned across the triangle between Afton, Manassas and Fork Union.
That search was expanded Monday morning, when Houchens called about the strange vehicle in his carport.
"It was like 10 after nine this morning," Houchens said Monday evening, standing on the front porch of his home. "I got up and saw the vehicle out there."
Houchens said he spent Sunday evening watching the Super Bowl upstairs and noticed nothing awry until he saw the 4Runner.
By Monday afternoon, Houchens said, his lawn was littered with police and yellow tape.
"Two officers came in and questioned me about it," he said. "I hadn't heard anything though about the missing man."
Police dogs "tracked about a mile up the road," Houchens said, "but, I guess they lost the scent."
More than 60 miles away, cars and trucks packed the yard of the home friends said Quick shared with his mother on Windy Acres Drive, just over the Nelson County line.
Relatives declined an interview request through a spokesman, who referred all questions to state police.
A neighbor who said she had watched Quick grow up recalled her shock, through tears, at the news of his disappearance.
"We can't stop crying. We can't sleep," said Patricia Zirkle, who lives across the street from the Quicks. "He is such a kind, caring person."
Quick had been planning a birthday party for one of his brothers the weekend he vanished, Zirkle said.
"He is forever thinking of other people," she said, "and if we ever needed anything, he was there for us."
Quick's father, Ron, the former chief of Waynesboro's police reserve unit, died in May. Friends said Quick moved back home to support his mother.
"It's heartbreaking for the family to have to endure all this," Zirkle said, adding that Kevin Quick recently became a father.
Friends said Quick had planned to visit a girlfriend in Albemarle on the night of his disappearance. He also had been searching for a new job to support his family after spending nearly 20 years at Invista, a Waynesboro fibers plant, friends said.
Quick heard Friday that a job for which he'd applied had gone to someone else, said Reo Hatfield, of Earlysville, a longtime family friend who was a pallbearer at Ron Quick's funeral.
"That kind of small setback would not have phased [Kevin Quick]," said Hatfield, who replaced Quick's father as chief of Waynesboro's police reserve unit. "He was just saying that he felt good about having a new opportunity to look forward to."
Hatfield said that resilience is a Quick family trait.
"They've always been a strong family with a strong extended family of friends," he said, especially last year, during Ron Quick's struggle with the illness that claimed his life. Where others might have cracked under the pressure of losing one parent while trying to support another, Kevin Quick quietly rose to the challenge, Hatfield said.
"His dad was so proud of him."
Hatfield and others described Quick as level-headed and easy-going.
"This is totally out of character," Waynesboro police reserve Lt. Col. Rodney Campbell said. "There is no way he would just totally disappear. He's not that kind of person."
Campbell said he's known Quick since he joined the reserve unit in 1990.
He said he was working with Quick as recently as Wednesday evening, conducting interviews for three hours for the unit's next academy class for their auxiliary school.
"Kevin was there and everything was absolutely normal," Campbell said. "Nothing seemed off at all and -- next thing you know -- Saturday, he's missing."
Copyright 2014 - The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Va.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service