‘We want the truth’: Still no answers in case of Dougherty Co. toddler reported missing after 2017 tornado

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:36 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Saturday, January 22, 2022 marks five years since a deadly EF-3 tornado hit Dougherty County.

The parents of Detrez Green, who was 2-years-old at the time, reported him missing that night.

To this day, he has not been found.

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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) refuses to call the case “cold.”

GBI agents said they still receive tips from time to time.

Today, Detrez Green would be 7-years-old. He’d be in first grade, learning things like how to add, subtract and read.

Instead, he is missing.

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Marko Jones is the assistant special agent in charge for the GBI office in Sylvester.

“We don’t want to say we’re looking for a person in the past tense,” Jones said. “We’re still actively looking for him.”

Green’s parents told police they couldn’t find him after the EF-3 tornado hit their mobile home park on Sunday, January 22, 2017.

“Any child investigation is difficult, but this one is magnified because we have so little info to go on,” Jones said. “Here, we don’t have anything. We just have a report that the child is missing, and that is it.”

More than 200 people helped search for Detrez over the five days after the storm.

They searched from the air and on the ground with rescue and cadaver dogs.

The search crews found nothing.

Marko Jones is the assistant special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's...
Marko Jones is the assistant special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's investigative office in Sylvester.(WALB/Zoom)

No one has ever even given investigators a photo of Detrez, so they can’t make a missing poster to share on social media.

“Who do we put out there to say, ‘have you seen this child?’ That is the one thing in this case that is the most frustrating,” Jones said. “This day in age, it could start here in the southwest Georgia area, and it could hit the West Coast in minutes if we had something to put out there.”

The lack of a photo, combined with the fact that Detrez would be 7 now, complicates things.

“We can’t use the technology that has age progression to say this is what the child would look like,” Jones said.

Jones and the other agents working the case said they do not know if Detrez is alive, and they do not want to assume the worst.

However, they say the emotional toll of the case, doesn’t get any easier for them.

“A lot of this investigation, we’ve had to painstakingly piece together through interviews, trying to find relatives, wherever we could get cooperation,” Jones said. “A lot of the agents here, including myself, have children. As our children get older, and we take a look at this case, it’s like he’s stopped in time.”

They are holding on to hope that one day, they will find closure.

“For us, yes, he’s 7 now, but he will always be this age (2) until we have some sort of conclusion to what happened to him,” Jones said. “We believe there are answers out there.”

The GBI is once again pleading with whoever that person is to do the right thing and come forward, even if they want to do so anonymously.

“We go with what we have, but we also know there is someone out there who truly knows what happened to him,” Jones said. “We just hope that they feel compelled, that their heart is touched, hopefully by seeing this that, ‘enough time has passed. Let me say something.’”

Jones would not tell WALB the last time agents talked to Detrez’s parents, because he did not want to reveal too much about their investigation.

He did say they are keeping in touch with multiple people involved.

If you know anything about what happened to Detrez, call the Dougherty County Police Department at (229) 430-6600, the GBI’s Regional Office in Sylvester at (229) 777-2080 or Albany Area Crime Stoppers at (229) 436-TIPS. You can stay anonymous.

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