published Thursday, March 28th, 2013

South Chattanooga man disappears during Tuesday afternoon walk

Ruth Espy talks Wednesday about her brother, Kelly Dobbs. Dobbs hasn't been seen since he left his home Tuesday afternoon to walk to the duck pond.
Ruth Espy talks Wednesday about her brother, Kelly Dobbs. Dobbs hasn't been seen since he left his home Tuesday afternoon to walk to the duck pond.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Kelly Dobbs never made it home to eat his favorite meal of spaghetti Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, Chattanooga police officers canvassed the neighborhood off Rossville Boulevard near Clio Avenue and East 35th Street where Dobbs lives. By Wednesday afternoon, there was still no sign of him.

Dobbs, 43, takes a daily walk to the duck pond in Rossville, said his sister, Ruth Espy.

But on Tuesday, the mentally challenged man didn't come home for dinner, Espy said.

"I know it's possible for him to disappear, but he doesn't do that," she said Wednesday afternoon as fresh tears began to dry on her face.

It was approaching 27 hours since Dobbs last had been seen. Officers had stayed out until 3 a.m. looking for him.

Espy has cared for her younger brother for 18 years. She worries about where he is and whether he is staying warm, with the temperatures dipping below freezing.

"He has his jacket on with the fleece lining, his toboggan on, and his gloves, too. But it's not warm enough," she said.

Dobbs is diabetic and requires daily medication. In his wallet, he has a tiny piece of paper with a list of phone numbers belonging to loved ones, should anyone encounter him.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd spoke with Dobbs' family Wednesday afternoon.

A command post was set up near Dobbs' home to allow about 60 officers to take breaks as they searched.

"He could be somewhere confused or lost," Dodd said. "We don't know if we're going to rescue him or it could be a recovery. We don't know yet."

Dobbs is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 275 pounds. He has a buzz haircut and was last seen wearing his glasses, a brown shirt, black jacket, blue jeans and a black hat.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Chattanooga police at 423-698-2525.

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