Family holds prayer vigil in rememberance of missing Tennessee Man

HAMPTON, Tenn. (BFMG) — Sheriff Mike Frady’s inmate is back behind bars in Carter County Tennessee, nearby Elizabethton where a body was found in neighboring area of Butler, leading to speculation in the community that it could be that of missing man, Victor “Timmy” Birchfield.

Victor Birchfield, 61, hasn’t been seen since just before Fletcher escaped from Carter County Detention Center on 6/20. Tiffany Cole, Birchfield’s daughter, expressed frustration early on about the slow investigation into her father’s disappearance, and was diligent in spreading word on social media and news channels.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued a #silveralert for Birchfield on 6/22 as part of the ongoing investigation.
Escaped inmate Billy Reed Fletcher is believed to have encountered Birchfield in Elizabethton, TN, on 6/20. Birchfield was last seen on 6/19, and surveillance footage confirms his vehicle left Elizabethton Municipal Airport shortly before Fletcher’s escape.
Subsequent sightings of Birchfield’s vehicle were reported along 351 near Watauga Lake , in Hampton and Boone, then his debit card used in Asheville an hour later. The vehicle was last seen in Clemson, SC, heading in the opposite direction towards Easley before being recovered in nearby Pickens County, SC.
Social media comments are abuzz with grave news of Birchfield while his family anxiously awaits confirmation. Victor “Timmy” Birchfield is described as a generous man, adding to the community’s concern over his disappearance and despair that the body found is Victor.
Greenville County Sheriff’s Office apprehended escaped inmate, Billy Fletcher without incident, but details about Birchfield’s recovered vehicle and any ongoing search efforts remain undisclosed.
UPDATE 7/9/2024

Community Holds a Prayer Vigil in Remembrance of Missing Tennessee Man, Victor Birchfield

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (BFMG) — On Tuesday evening, the community gathered for a vigil to honor Victor Birchfield, a Carter County man reported missing on June 21. The vigil took place amid concerns that Birchfield’s disappearance might be linked to the recent escape of Carter County inmate Billy Fletcher, who was captured in South Carolina. Birchfield’s vehicle had been recovered in the Clemson area of South Carolina, leading the Carter County Sheriff’s Office to believe the two cases are connected.

Friends, family, co-workers, and community members came together on Monday to pray for Birchfield’s family as they await answers regarding his whereabouts. The vigil, initially intended to rally support for a search effort, took a somber turn after unidentified remains were discovered in the Butler community of Johnson County over the weekend. Birchfield’s daughter, Tiffany Cole, expressed the family’s belief that the remains belong to her father.

She told WJBL, “I think we all know in our hearts that they belong to my dad,” Cole said. “Having that confirmation, knowing he’s not out there somewhere suffering, brings us closer to understanding what happened.”

Cole also spoke about the need for answers surrounding her father’s disappearance, suggesting negligence played a role. “Negligence is a hard word to use, but I think to me and all of my family, lots of my dad’s friends, and just people in the community, that’s exactly what has happened here,” she said. “There was a case of negligence that has resulted in the worst possible outcome.”

During the vigil, attendees shared their favorite memories of Birchfield. Steve Hopland, a long-time friend and aircraft mechanic client, remembered Birchfield’s dedication. “Victor always got the job done,” Hopland said. “You didn’t have to worry about the work being done right. He always did it right, always took care of people.”

Hopland also shared how Birchfield had been instrumental in assisting with aircraft maintenance. “He’s gone with me to find airplanes needing maintenance and flew them back here,” Hopland recounted. “We had airplane problems in Florida, and Victor went back down, fixed the airplane, and flew it back home.”

Cole highlighted the community’s support, calling it beautiful to see. “Kindness came easy to him,” she said. “The love and support we have received from the community from day one has been amazing. I have my boys here today. They’ve been outside of this whole process because it has been traumatic. But I want them to see how many people love their papaw, how many people know what a wonderful human he is, how many lives he’s touched.”

She noted that many of her father’s friends, including classmates and Army buddies from across the country, have reached out in support. “I’ve had his friends from high school, Army buddies, people from literally all over the United States calling and saying, ‘Hey, what is going on?’” Cole said. “He’s very loved.”

Cole acknowledged the long road ahead, even after the DNA results are confirmed, indicating the family’s ongoing fight for justice and closure.

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