State, local agencies searching for Covington woman last seen at Hapeville bar

GBI, Georgia State Patrol involved in investigation; family asks public for help

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted by the GBI and the Georgia State Patrol in the search for a Covington woman last seen leaving a bar in the early morning hours of Saturday.

Yolanda Brown left her home to go out Friday night and has not returned, according to the Newton sheriff’s office. She was last seen at a Hapeville bar called Irish Bred Pub, where surveillance video shows her speaking to two men in the parking lot, Channel 2 Action News reported.

According to the news station, Brown spoke with one of the men for about two hours in her car. He then got out, got into his own SUV and followed her as both drove out of the parking lot.

Officials have not released any information about the security footage or the men seen with Brown, and her family has not heard anything from her since she left the bar.

The circumstances of Brown’s disappearance have left her family frustrated and investigators with few options, according to her son, Joshua Doughty. In a conversation with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Doughty explained that investigators have been unable to take anyone into custody because the security video does not show any foul play.

Doughty, who lives with Brown, said he filed a missing person report with Hapeville police Saturday night, less than 24 hours from the time his mother was last seen. He said Brown, 53, is a very loving person who constantly checks in on family and friends.

“That’s why I didn’t wait two days and stuff like that,” Doughty said. “I gave her some space because she’s a grown woman, but at the same time, she’s absent, and she’s not known for that.”

Doughty worked with Hapeville police until they turned over the case to the Newton sheriff’s office after finding no signs of foul play, he said. Once the sheriff’s office took over the investigation Tuesday, they requested assistance from the GBI. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office confirmed the GBI’s involvement.

At a news conference Tuesday, Doughty and other members of Brown’s family pleaded for help from the public.

“She drives a 2020 Impala. We ain’t seen the car, we can’t find the car,” Doughty told reporters Tuesday.

Brown was last seen wearing a black T-shirt dress with a white number 10 on it, the sheriff’s office said.

Doughty told the AJC he had been interviewed by the GBI and that he’d given investigators with the state agency permission to search his mother’s room. Though he allowed the search in the interest of leaving no stone unturned, he said he did not believe investigators would find any helpful evidence in his mother’s personal life.

“People seemed more interested in my mom and what she was doing instead of the last person she was with,” Doughty said.

Brown previously lived in Hapeville and drove there once or twice a month to go to the Irish Bred Pub, Doughty said. He said she regularly met a man there, a former coworker with whom she’d remained friends and who is seen in the surveillance video.

The second man, who can be seen following her in the SUV, was described by Doughty as a regular at the bar. He said Brown may have been acquainted with that man.

The search continued Wednesday afternoon as investigators partnered with GSP’s aviation unit to perform an air search from the Covington airport. A GSP spokesperson said the agency responded to the sheriff’s office’s request for air assistance around 1:30 p.m. but did not have any further information to share about the case.

Doughty and other family members conducted their own search Wednesday, retracing the 40-mile route Brown would have driven between Hapeville and Covington. They also handed out flyers in both cities and canvassed the areas around Brown’s home and the bar where she was last seen.

Neither effort resulted in new information, according to Doughty.

More than four days after Brown was last seen, authorities have not said if a suspect or person of interest has been identified.

“Investigators are actively interviewing people,” Newton sheriff’s office spokeswoman Caitlin Jett said.

Doughty told reporters he believes the man who last spoke with Brown should be considered a suspect. Through his mother’s phone records, Doughty was able to contact the man but was not satisfied with the story he heard.

Doughty said he wanted the man to “really jog his memory,” but got few details that would help find Brown.

“Remember what happened that night? Remember what route you took? These are important things for a missing person,” Doughty said. “It shouldn’t be a big deal for you.”

At Tuesday’s news conference, Doughty summed up his phone conversation with the man in one sentence: “I don’t really believe none of that.”

Mickie Nutall, Brown’s sister, said at the news conference, “She always wants to be someone’s friend, and I am 100% convinced that her friend-making is what led to her being missing right now.”

“We know that her phone has been pinging off some towers in Covington and Newton County,” Muwali Davis, the family’s attorney, said at the news conference. By Wednesday, Doughty said, police realized the phone traffic was not Brown using her device, but friends and family attempting to call her.

Doughty said his concern is mounting because his mother needs daily medication for lupus.

“It’s never like my mama to cut her phone off,” Doughty said.

Anyone with information related to Brown’s whereabouts is asked to call Investigator Simmons with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office at 678-625-1453.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.