By Sarah Snyder
It's been a long search for a Fort Stockton man who turned up missing 20 years ago.
Over the past five days, Texas Equusearch volunteers have brought some of the most advanced search equipment available to the Imperial area. They say what's making the biggest difference are the people who have come out to help.
Texas Equusearch says, the support of this community has played a vital role in their search efforts. We spoke with one of the original search team members who helped look for Joe Daggett back in 1988. He says, it's a mission that has brought all of West Texas together.
"It's just kind of the way West Texans are. When something like that happens, everybody gets out and helps," Spud Curfew, a member of the Crane Fire Department when Daggett went missing in 1988, said.
"They had all kinds of search parties out looking for him: horseback, people in trucks, walking, everything for several weeks back then," Curfew said.
Even when folks headed out for work in the oil fields, they never stopped looking for Joe.
"Everybody was hopeful they'd find him. That was the main thing. Everybody thought that they would just stumble up on him as they were doing their job and working," Curfew said.
It's a hunt that hasn't yet been laid to rest. People in Imperial say, finding Joe will bring closure, not only to the Daggett family, but the entire community.
"I have two sons and a bunch of grandkids and if one of them were missing like that, I would want to know what happened," Imperial Neighbor, Wayne Sherwood, said.
"The community from Imperial has been amazing to support the Daggett family," Sean Henady, with Texas Equusearch, said. "We've put a lot of tension and stress on the environment sometimes, and the locals, seeing this go on and it's a difficult environment for everybody and I just hope that everybody has some patience and realize the Daggett's need some answers."
The private investigator on the Daggett case tells NewsWest 9, Tuesday's search was a huge success. A group called Cin-Tex brought in cadaver dogs to help confirm a specific location, and that's just what they did. Crews now believe a five by five foot area on an Imperial-area ranch is the location of Joe's body.
"Each dog is trained, the handlers are trained and these are well-qualified teams," Henady said. "The handlers are incredible, the dogs are incredible and have been through a lot of other cases, so if it's going to be found by a dog, these teams will do it."
At this point, crews are waiting for permission from the land-owner. Then they'll begin excavating the site hopefully recovering Joe Daggett in the next few days, an end to a mystery puzzling this community for two decades.