Betsy Tucker Hope’s son Terry Tucker Jr. has been missing since June 20. The Westbrook woman believes her son, 32, is dead. In the framed photo, Terry Tucker Jr. can be seen with his younger sister. Chance Viles / American Journal

Police say they have renewed their efforts to locate Terry Tucker Jr. of Westbrook, missing since June 20, but his mother believes, based on his behavior before he disappeared, that he died by suicide and she wants to find his body.

Tucker, 32 and the father of two young children, was last seen in Westbrook by his family at home. Despite tips police have received on his rumored whereabouts since then, Betsy Tucker Hope has spent her days searching for his body in the woods near her Prides Corner home. Now she’s hoping for help in her search, be it from law enforcement or volunteers.

This the most recent photo taken of Terry Tucker Jr. “He has so much pain in his eyes,” his mother said. His family shares the photo in case people recognize him, but say that even a few months prior he looked much healthier. File photo

“I can’t be convinced my son is OK. I am begging for someone to help, a group to come in and do a full search of the woods near the house. He left with nothing, no shoes, he couldn’t have gotten far,” Hope told the American Journal.

Hope believes that Tucker’s body is near her home, but somewhere hard to reach. He would have taken his own life in a place where his mother or younger sister couldn’t find him, she said. The woods behind her house stretch over to the Mill Brook Preserve and large areas are too rugged for even prepared hikers.

“Before he disappeared he told me it would all be OK, it would be all right. I think he wanted to spare me the pain,” Hope said.

As a child, Tucker was sweet and quiet, Hope said, but he was troubled with emotional issues worsened by turmoil in the family, including his father’s drug addiction.

Longtime family friend Jodie Newcomb, who helps Hope search for Tucker, recalls him as a “family guy.”

He would do anything in the world for them then, but he felt like he couldn’t escape his past,” Newcomb said in an interview. “I remember sleepovers and he would want to join me and his sisters and hang out, just be a part of the group.”

Newcomb and Hope the photo of Tucker circulated by police doesn’t do him justice.

Terry, with clean teeth and nice hair, is the real him. I can’t stand to share that other photo, but we have to in case somebody recognizes him. He is not what you see in the photos,” Newcomb said. 

In his late teens, Tucker became addicted to opiates and benzodiazepines in an effort to escape his emotional pain, Hope said. But even after he got clean in his mid-20s, his mother said, he remained troubled by his past.

Other drug users would attack him over something he did years back, she said, and he often felt trapped.

“He was someone who wanted the finer things in life, but he felt his father’s name haunted him, that he never had a chance,” Hope said. “Sometimes he would say ‘Mom, I can’t do this anymore,’ with so much hurt in his eyes.”

Contrary to much of what she sees people post on social media about Tucker’s disappearance, her son was off all street drugs by the time he went missing, Hope said. He had been experiencing serious paranoia and depression, worsened by his inability to sleep and a failing relationship with his fiancee.

Just before his disappearance, Hope recalls,  Tucker was isolating himself in his room at her house, paranoid that police or trouble from drug-using days was waiting for him outside his house.

“He was afraid to be seen by people. He was afraid to go outside,” Hope said.

The last time she saw Tucker was at home on June 20. Before leaving to run errands, Tucker left his room to give her a “tight hug,” and told her he loved her.

Upon returning, Hope found her son gone, without his shoes or wallet, but with items from the house that she said could be used to commit suicide.

Terry Tucker Jr.’s mother, Betsy Tucker Hope, says her son was drug-free when he went missing. Contributed / Betsy Tucker Hope

Two months later, Hope believes Tucker took his own life in the nearby woods. She and her family search the woods regularly, but the brush is thick and some areas are too overgrown to get a solid search in with her small group.

Westbrook Police Capt. Steve Goldberg told the American Journal that the department, based on tips and sightings, believe Tucker is still alive. More evidence of suicide is needed before a cadaver dog or other resources could be brought in, he said.

“We have had sightings since then with people that believe it is him. The family has searched those woods and have not come across that, and the woods here are fairly well-traversed, people walking on the trails or whatnot,” Goldberg said. “In this case, that’s what we have to base it upon.”

Goldberg said potential sightings are concentrated in Portland around Riverton Drive, Marginal Way and Temple Street.

We’ve driven around, talking to folks on the streets, trying anything we can to lay eyes on him,” Goldberg said. “Right now we are under the impression he is alive.”

Hope said with his mental health issues and even a possible drug relapse, Tucker would have had a run-in with the law by now. Goldberg said if Tucker’s name is run through area police systems now, an alarm would go off in dispatch specific to missing persons.

As for the sightings, Hope said many people on the streets could be mistaken for her son, a while male with brown hair.

“Looking back on the things he said, I feel such guilt and pain in my heart. I can’t eat or sleep,” Hope said.

While Hope is calling for a search, Westbrook police are still seeking tips on Tucker’s whereabouts. He was last seen wearing a gray hoodie, gray shorts and reportedly blue sneakers, though his mother contends he left without his shoes. He has brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with any information should call Westbrook Police at 207-864-0644.

The area behind Betsy Tucker Hope’s Westbrook home is heavily wooded and in places so thick with brush they are impassable. It has no visible trails and is too dense for hikers. The woods across the street are even worse, Hope said. Chance Viles / American Journal

 

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