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Va. family looking for son who disappeared in 2010

Thursday - 12/22/2011, 4:48pm  ET

By KARI PUGH
News and Messenger

NOKESVILLE, Va. - Donna Donahue marks the days since her son's disappearance on the calendar in her kitchen.

631. 632. 633. 634.

She has a huge sign in her front yard seeking information, too. But, it seems, Shane Donahue has disappeared without a trace.

"I want him to come home, one way or another," Donna Donahue said. "How can we go another Christmas?"

On March 22, 2010, Donahue, 23, left his parents' house about 3:45 p.m. with his typical "Love you, Mom," and hasn't been heard from again.

Within 10 minutes of that goodbye, both of his cell phones went dead.

"Both phones went off around 4 that day," said Prince William County police Detective Brian Wing. "Either they were both turned off at the same time, or the batteries died at the exact same time."

Shane Donahue, called Bubba by his mom, lived in a duplex not far from his parents' house -- both along Aden Road. On the day he vanished, Donahue was flush with cash -- he'd just been paid $5,000 for installing ceiling tiles at Colgan Air.

He'd paid friend Timothy Sean Hickerson $1,000 of that for helping out with the job, according to his parents and police.

Donahue was with Timothy Hickerson when he dropped by his mom's the day he disappeared. He rode off in the passenger seat of the blue box truck, with Hickerson driving.

Timothy Hickerson is the last person known to have seen Shane Donahue, police say.

"He is a person of interest in this case," Wing said.

Hickerson is now serving four years in federal prison for breaking into two area gun stores and stealing firearms from one in the months after Donahue's disappearance.

The first break in happened April 22, 2010 at the Guns and Ammo Warehouse at 10951 Nokesville Road in Nokesville. Prosecutors said Hickerson tore out a section of metal beneath a windowpane at the store, but couldn't get in that way. He then broke a glass to an adjoining business, reached inside Guns and Ammo and stole a rifle and suppressor.

On May 29, Hickerson broke into Guns and Ammo again, smashing a back door and stealing six firearms and silencers, according to court records.

The next day, Hickerson attempted to break into the Virginia Arms store on Center Street in Manassas, but was confronted by two employees inside the store. He ran away, but since he was a regular at the store, the employees recognized him, according to court documents.

The Hickerson family has lived in Nokesville for generations and they're well known for their electric business. Timothy Hickerson is the son of Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian Hickerson.

If Timothy Hickerson knows anything about what happened to Shane Donahue, he's not saying, according to police.

"Nobody's talking," Wing said.

In the search for Shane Donahue, there's a lot of rumor. But detectives have yet to find a credible lead about where he might be or what might have happened to him.

Donahue did odd jobs for a living, and was quite possibly a "low-level" drug dealer in the Nokesville area, Wing said. Two years before he disappeared, his roommate was busted by the FBI for narcotics distribution.

Donahue, though, hadn't been in any serious trouble with the law in his 23 years. He was admittedly a bad driver, according to his parents, and court records show a long list of traffic convictions. He was also twice convicted of marijuana possession, in 2006 and 2009.

He didn't seem to have a reason to disappear on his own. And there has been absolutely no sign of him since March 22, 2010 -- no activity on his phones or any bank accounts, no calls to family members, no "hits" on the National Crime Information Center.

During their investigation, police "lit up" his duplex looking for blood splatter, DNA and anything that might indicate a struggle or murder, Wing said. Nothing at all was found. His parents paid for cadaver dogs to scour Nokesville parks, lakes and ponds. No hits.

There's no evidence either way, but his parents don't think he's alive.

Donahue, the middle child of Brian and Donna Donahue, had dinner at his parents' house just about every night. And a day didn't go by without him calling his mom.

"Bubba would never leave me like this," said Donna Donahue, who has spent the past six years battling colon and breast cancer.

They are so sure, they've already bought his burial plot.

The family is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Shane's whereabouts, and Prince William County Crime Solvers will pay a $1,000 cash reward.

Detective Wing says he's still working leads and talking to people in Nokesville in hopes of turning up the tip that solves the mystery of what happened to Shane Donahue.

"There is one thing ..." Wing said. "The tipster who recently called to Crime Solvers, we'd like them to call back again."

That person, and anyone with information, is asked to call Crime Solvers at 703-670-3700.

___

Information from: News and Messenger, http://www.insidenova.com


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