7 years since disappearance of James Martin Roberts, information still sought

Last Updated on April 21, 2023 10:04 am

Today, Friday, April 21, 2023, marks seven years since the disappearance of James Martin Roberts. It's a case that still draws deep emotions from local law enforcement officials, Roberts family members and friends.

Roberts was last seen on Thursday April 21, 2016  at approximately 12:30 pm near the intersection of Hardin Street and Rivers Street around the ASU Convocation Center.  Extensive searches in Boone and in the county produced no answers. The search for Martin has led law enforcement to check tips spanning across the nation.

Last year, in noting the 6th year, John Roberts the father of Martin provided the following statement:

“Abbie and I would like to express our gratitude for all the love, support and prayers we have received over the past six years. This support has literally come from around the world and we would have never been able to make it through these six years without it. We’ll never be able to thank everyone enough.

We would also like say a special thank you to Chief LeBeau, former Chief Crawford and numerous members of the Boone Police Department, past and present, for their tireless efforts to find Martin. Thank you doesn’t come close to expressing our appreciation for your efforts.

If anyone has any information about the disappearance of our son, James “Martin” Roberts, we ask you to contact the Boone Police Department or High Country Crime Stoppers. No lead is too small to consider and they are all reviewed by BPD Detectives as they come in. There remains a $10,000 award for information leading to the whereabouts of Martin.

Thank you,


John & Abbie Roberts”

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released an age-progressed photo of James Roberts in 2021, to the age of 24, he was 19 went he went missing.

In late January 2018, reported that the case would be featured on the national TV program “Disappeared”, produced by Investigation Discovery/ Discovery/NBC. That episode aired June 3, 2018.

The Help Find Martin Roberts Facebook page continues to seek information and list ways you can help.

Ways you can help today:
1. Join the HelpFindMartinRoberts group if you haven’t already!
2. Invite others to join the group.
3. Share the MISSING poster with the $10,000 Reward note at the bottom.
4. Share the pinned announcement “Here are the facts as we know them,…..”
5. Share any other of the posts here.
6. Private Message the group administrators or myself your address and we’ll send you a sticker for your car as pictured here.
7. If so inclined, say a small prayer for the health and safety of James Martin Roberts.
8. Tell someone you care about that you love them!
9. Leave a candle burning in your window so loved ones always know they are welcome in your home!
10. Try to live out the following quote from the late, great Jimmy Valvano:

“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.”

Anyone with information about James Martin Roberts  is ask to contact Boone Police Department or High County Crime Stoppers.

*Boone Police Press Release from April 2016*

On April 21, 2016, James “Martin” Roberts was reported missing to the Boone Police Department by his roommates. This being the one year anniversary of Martin’s disappearance, the Boone Police Department would like to recap the efforts taken to find Martin during the last 365 days. Throughout the past year, many agencies and individuals have contributed to our investigation. It is obvious that people really care about Martin’s welfare and everyone wants to help bring him home.

Tips and Sightings

Martin has not been located and, to this date, the law enforcement community has not received any confirmable information that would help find him. Many pieces of information have been learned and lots of people have called in possible tips and sightings. The search for Martin had led law enforcement to check tips as far as the Outer Banks and up into Virginia. The Boone Police Department has also worked with various agencies along the Appalachian Trail and as far away as Ohio.

Land & SONAR Water Searches for Martin

Because there is no real information about Martin’s whereabouts, the Boone Police Department has been searching for him anywhere he could be found. Many land searches have been conducted by both officers and citizens. These searches have occurred in many locations within the High Country. The Boone Police Department utilized the North Catawba Fire & Rescue Dive Team during this investigation.  This agency provided both personnel and specialized equipment to assist in the searches, including a rescue boat equipped with SONAR to search bodies of water. They also provided trained rescue divers to investigate anything discovered by the SONAR equipment.

The Appalachian State University Police Department has conducted several thorough searches of their entire campus and the areas surrounding. This includes all tunnels and rooftops.

Search dogs

Two separate teams of specialized human remains detection (HRD) dog teams have been used during this investigation. The use of these trained dogs allows searchers to cover more ground efficiently. One of these teams were used for land and another for water. The NC State Bureau of Investigation’s HRD dog teams helped search multiple land area locations on multiple dates. The Boone Police Department has also utilized Dr. Lisa Briggs’ HRD dog team. Dr. Briggs is a Criminologist with Western Carolina University and she owns a highly successful HRD dog named “Layla.” Layla is specially trained to search for human remains contained within bodies of water. Layla was used to search two bodies of water near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The North Catawba Fire & Rescue Dive Team again assisted with their personnel and equipment to assist in these water searches.


Early in the search for Martin Roberts, the North Carolina Highway Patrol provided the use of their pilots and a specially equipped helicopter to search densely wooded areas. This helicopter was equipped with a “FLIR” camera. FLIR senses infrared radiation that is typically from a heat source. FLIR was specifically used in this situation to search for human being or campfires.

Assisting Agencies

The Boone Police Department is a small agency and has reached out to many public safety partners to investigate this case. Just some of the contributing agencies are the Appalachian State University Police Department, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Blowing Rock Police Department, the NC State Bureau of Investigation and State Highway Patrol, the NC and US Park Rangers, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the National Missing Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) and the US Secret Service. These are just a few of the assisting agencies.

The Roberts Family

The Boone Police Department continues to work alongside the Robert’s family. We have used their family as a resource throughout this investigation. The Robert’s family has been crucial in reporting various tips and sightings that were not reported to law enforcement. The Robert’s family have been a joy to work with during this tragic situation.

Case Reviews

The Boone Police Department held many meetings, as often as daily, during this investigation. On several occasions, the entire Investigations Division have met together and gone over the entire case completely to brainstorm any new ideas to investigate.

When this investigation began to slow down and investigators felt they were running out of leads to follow-up on, the Boone Police Department sought the assistance of an outside expert in the field of criminal investigations. Scott Hartley from the North Carolina Justice Academy was brought in for two days to do a complete review of the case, including all actions taken by the Boone Police Department. Mr. Hartley was able to look at this investigation with “fresh eyes,” and point out areas of the investigation that needed more work. Mr. Hartley’s insight was very helpful and the Boone Police Department began following-up on these new ideas.

Where are we now?

Unfortunately, the Boone Police Department has not been able to uncover any confirmable or credible information that has allowed investigators to learn the whereabouts of Martin Roberts.

Where are we going with this case?

The Boone Police Department will continue to look for Martin until we find him.  This week a separate outside expert in criminal investigations is reviewing the entire case for yet another “fresh eyes” perspective on this case. The Boone Police Department is also talking with Western Carolina University about possibly arranging a large-scale missing person case study by a large group of undergraduate criminology students. The Boone Police Department still continues to receive information and tips about Martin, these tips are treated as a high priority and are followed-up on immediately.

Want more details about this case?

For much more information about this investigation, including interviews with Martin Roberts’ father and the case investigators go to: Click on Listen / Episodes and scroll down to the Martin Roberts case.

Martin was last seen wearing a black, short sleeve, Appalachian State windbreaker, khaki shorts, gray new balance shoes and a white golf visor hat.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Boone Police Department at 828-268-6900 or High Country Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959 / 828-737-0125.  You may also submit a

Crime Stoppers Tip via our website at:

You can also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) and place “NCTIP plus your tip” in the body of the message.

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