Joshua Day had "to do this one thing," and whatever it was, those were his last words to family members before he vanished July 24, 2020, leaving behind nothing except the ATV he was riding that investigators found in the Grundy County, Tennessee, woods.
There have been no leads or new information in the case, and authorities are still seeking tips, Sheriff Clint Shrum said Monday in an email.
Day would now be 34. A $10,000 reward put up by the family stands for any tips leading to Day's whereabouts.
"That missing person case remains active and ongoing," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Susan Niland said Monday in an email. Niland said the TBI will initiate a push this week on social media seeking information in the case.
"We recently spoke with his family and got additional photos of Josh," Niland said.
(READ MORE: Tennessee woman's sleuthing helps identify Georgia man's body after 37 years)
Day is described as white, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing 125 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes, according to the TBI. When Day was last seen, he was wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and a white hat.
Searches since Day's disappearance have mostly been focused east of Grundy Forest State Natural Area at South Cumberland State Park and Fiery Gizzard Recreation Area along the county line around the Raven Point Road area. The Sheriff's Office said searches have been conducted with help from the Tennessee Highway Patrol's helicopter and search dogs from neighboring counties, but no leads surfaced.
The ATV that Day was last seen riding is described as a tan Honda Recon 250, which was found during the initial investigation near the Grundy-Marion county line, Grundy officials said in July 2020. Park rangers from nearby Tennessee state parks aided in the search, along with authorities from Williamson and Franklin counties, who sent tracking dogs to help.
Officials said during initial searches the tracking dogs from Williamson County picked up a scent, but the trail was lost.
In the weeks after Day's disappearance, the family began its own push for information, announcing a reward for information that now stands at $10,000.
Cindy Day, Josh Day's mother, said all the family wants is to know where her son is so she can lay him to rest.
Day and her husband, Gary, are haunted by the final conversation with their son. His father was going camping the night he disappeared, and he wanted his son to go with him, according to Cindy Day.
"I pulled up in the driveway, and I said, 'Son, what are you doing?' and he said, 'I'm getting ready to go four-wheeler riding.' I said, 'But son, your dad wants you to go camping with him.' And he said, 'I know, Mom. I'll go next time, but I have to do this one thing," the mother recalled in April 2021.
"He said, 'This one thing, I have to do it.' I said, 'But your father is going to be so disappointed. Why can't you put it off till later? Why can't you go?' He said, 'Mom, I would if I could but I just can't. I have to do this one thing,'" she said.
Those words still hang in the air.
"That was the last time I saw him," she said. "It was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon."
The passage of time has been no solace.
"It's becoming harder and harder, actually, to deal with birthdays, holidays, things that remind me of Josh. like summertime camping, doing a bonfire because it's so unsettling," Cindy Day said early Monday in a phone interview while she prepared the morning's offerings at Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City.
Before his disappearance, her son often helped out at the bakery, and every day is filled with reminders, she said.
"I miss him helping me at the bakery. When I look at the front porch - that's where I'm at right now - I wish Josh was here to help me," she said. "Every day I see these little things and I think, 'Oh, Josh would have helped me on this, he would have helped me with that.'
"He has my laugh had my laugh, my smile, my work ethic - he was me made over just in guy form," the still-grieving mother said. "The only thing was he got hooked on the stupid drugs, you know?
"It's just sad that each one of us have something in our lives that can make us trip up. We don't ever really know until it happens to us," she said.
Facing reality is a constant struggle, but now what she wants most is to lay her son to rest.
"We would love to be able to bury his body. I find it disrespectful, and I find it very heart-wrenching to know that his body's out there," she said, her voice filled with torment. "It's so strange that it's not getting easier; it's getting harder."
Cindy Day believes someone out there knows what happened to Josh, and all she wants is to close the loop on her loss.
"I don't hold any anger against them, I don't hold any grudges against them. I just want to bury my son," she said.
Day said parents should love their children with all their hearts no matter what their problems are.
"Just love them where they are because they need it," she said. "Being angry doesn't ever bring them back."
Niland said the TBI is seeking any kind of lead.
Anyone with information about Joshua Day should call 800-TBI-FIND or 800-824-3463. Or, tipsters can send an email to TipsToTBI@tn.gov.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.