Lopez reported missing a year ago
A year ago this week, a Yellow Springs High School senior drove to South
Glen Helen and vanished. Since he disappeared on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2002,
no evidence has surfaced as to the whereabouts of Tim Lopez.
Ive gone days without sleeping trying to figure it out,
Major William Harden of the Greene County Sheriffs Department said
in a recent interview. We have exhausted all leads.
Detectives are currently backtracking over old evidence, making sure they
have uncovered everything we possibly could, Harden said.
A $1,000 reward from the Sheriffs Department is still being offered
for evidence that lead to his whereabouts. People with information may
Quite a few Greene County residents came up missing last year,
said Harden, who declined to name specific figures, and Tim is the
only one we havent found.
The case is still open, said Harden, the lead detective on
the case. The case will remain open until we find Tim.
A fateful Tuesday
Lopez was last seen leaving Yellow Springs High School around 10 a.m.
on Jan. 22. He returned to his home in Clifton, where he spoke via cellphone
to his mother, Barbara McQuiston, who was out of town on business. One
reason she called, according to police records, was to remind her son
to pick up his glasses that day at LensCrafters. It was an ordinary conversation,
full of the details of daily life, in a day that would soon turn anything
When Lopez failed to pick up his girlfriend, Beth Burt, that afternoon
at Fairborn High School, Burt called Bob Deasy on her cellphone. Burt,
who lived with Tim, Deasy and McQuiston in a contemporary River Road home
with large windows that looked out over a pastoral landscape, was alarmed
at Lopezs absence, since he had never previously failed to show
When Deasy returned home from work, he and Burt searched for Lopez, finding
his Dodge Avenger parked next to Grinnell Mill in the South Glen. They
set off on foot to try to find him, but darkness halted their search.
At that point, McQuiston contacted the Sheriffs Department to report
her son missing.
John Bryan Park rangers and a Miami Township Fire-Rescue search team took
up the effort that night. The following day the same team, joined by regional
sheriff deputies and search dogs, scoured Glen Helen, Clifton Gorge and
the state park. When the entire area had been searched the following day,
the search was called off.
A witness said he had seen a young man fitting Lopezs description
speaking to two men by the side of the road in John Bryan Park that Tuesday,
but the witness later proved unreliable.
Investigative trail goes dry
The Sheriffs Department reported receiving many leads as to Lopezs
whereabouts, but none led anywhere, said Harden, and new leads dried up
several months ago.
A vehicle was all we had to go on, Harden said of the investigation.
Lopezs locked car contained his cellphone, wallet and a LensCrafters
McQuiston, Deasy and Burt reported to police that Lopez showed no signs
of mood change or depression that might indicate suicide, and that they
saw no unusual behavior leading up to his disappearance. Rather, they
said, he seemed at a good place in his life, having turned around some
past problems with marijuana use about the time he met his girlfriend.
The two of them spent all of their time together outside of school, Burt
said, working at TJ Maxx several evenings and weekends. They had begun
a housecleaning service in order to save money for college.
However, when he disappeared, McQuiston filed a police report about her
concerns that her son might have met with foul play due to past drug use.
While rumors linked Lopez with drug dealing and his disappearance to a
botched drug deal, neither McQuiston nor Burt believed he sold drugs.
Burt said that she never saw Lopez dealing or using drugs. McQuiston questioned
why, if her son sold drugs, he never seemed to have any money, and why
he and his girlfriend worked at a low-paying job. A thorough search of
their home after his disappearance revealed no indication of drug dealing,
Lopezs disappearance doesnt fit the pattern of foul play connected
with drug dealing, Harden said this month, because when drug dealers kill,
they want to send a message.
They want to make this person an example, he said. Sooner
or later you will come across a body.
As to what did happen to Lopez, Harden has no clues at this time. I
dont know, he said.
A long year for many
For the past year, Barbara McQuiston has been living a parents worst
nightmare. While she would like to believe her only child is still alive,
she does not.
I just have my belief that something terrible happened to him,
she said in a recent interview. There are no signs that he was a
runaway. There is no nothing.
Several months ago, McQuiston, formerly employed at YSI Incorporated as
vice president of advanced technology products, sold her Clifton home
and moved to an out-of-state location, which she prefers to keep confidential,
near her office as a business consultant. She said that she moved to focus
on her work and to try to lessen the pain of her sons absence. Deasy
has remained in the Yellow Springs area.
It was hard to come home and have everything the same, like Tim
was going to walk through the door, McQuiston said. I thought
it would be better to be someplace that is not just like the moment he
While McQuiston has been going through the grieving process, she believes
that not knowing what happened to Tim makes grieving even more difficult.
Its easier if theres a funeral, because theres
a point of moving on, she said. But in a situation like this,
you have to make your own point.
The holidays were especially difficult, she said, and she spent them with
McQuiston said that she feels grateful to the Yellow Springs community,
emphasizing how much I appreciate everyones consideration
It will always be a very special place to me, she said.
As well as communicating her gratitude, McQuiston wanted to alert village
parents to learn what they could do now, before an emergency, to help
find their own children should they ever disappear. For example, she said,
its helpful to have a childs fingerprints on file.
McQuiston said that she understands the difficult balance parents must
find between wanting children to feel safe and wanting them to be prepared
for the worst.
Its difficult to teach them to be smart and savvy and still
be involved in a close and caring community, she said. But
even though Yellow Springs is a beautiful community, its not immune.
Lopezs disappearance last year cast a dark cloud over
the rest of the year at Yellow Springs High School, especially among his
peers in the senior class, Principal John Gudgel said.
A former football player, Tim was a member of the high school choir last
year and was known as a friendly, good-spirited young man, although one
who had few close friends besides his girlfriend.
Following his disappearance, the school held several assemblies to provide
information and offer students the opportunity to express themselves.
Lopezs disappearance and the brief disappearance of another high
school student heightened everyones general awareness of accountability,
said Gudgel. For instance, students seemed to keep close track of each
other, he said.
At the end of the year, students participated in a daylong workshop during
which they created murals, poetry and songs to express their feelings
about their classmates disappearance. In addition, the graduation
ceremony included a tribute to Lopez.
Since Lopezs class graduated last spring, Gudgel said its
hard to gauge how his absence affects students this year. Large
murals created by students during the workshop still decorate the school
cafeteria, and several missing posters remain on the schools
Hes still in our hearts, Gudgel said. That hasnt
Beth Burt has also moved out of state, seeking the healing that a new
start might provide, although she remains close to Lopezs family.
While she dropped out of Fairborn High School after he disappeared, she
later completed her education through the Internet and recently began
taking college classes.
Im doing better now than I was in Ohio, Burt said in
a recent interview. Getting away has been good for me, but it doesnt
mean that I think of him any less.
In fact, she dreams of Lopez often, then awakes, believing that he is
still with her.
For a few moments I forget hes gone, she said. And
then I remember and it happens all over again.
Burt said that she has never given up hope that Lopez might still be alive,
and even being in a new place far away hasnt erased the sense that
her boyfriend might turn up sometime soon.
I always scan crowds for him, she said. I see his face