QUESTION: I was behind a car with a sign in the window that says “Darvis Lee Jr. is still missing,” and it made me curious.
ANSWER: Darvis Lee Jr. was a 36-year-old Sonora man who was last seen in October 2010 in the Columbia area. His parents found his car shortly afterward about three miles away in the Quail Mine Road area. Three months later, his jawbone was found about eight miles away at Five Mile Creek. No other remains have been found.
His mother, Sandy Lee, said Thursday she hasn’t — and will never — give up hope that her son’s remains will be found.
“I just want him found,” she said.
She put the sign on her car about a year ago to prompt anyone with information to call her.
“Someone out there knows something,” she said. “The truth is going to come out one day.”
She’s received a number of calls and emails since she put the sign in the window, including one recently that said emphatically Darvis’ body was in the Quail Mine area. She turned the information over to law enforcement.
Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Andrea Benson said. “Detectives are actively working on verifying the information they were given in the email which includes speaking with the person who provided the information given to the family.”
Lee said her primary focus isn’t what happened or whether someone killed him as much as getting him a proper burial.
“He had such a hard life,” she said.
When he was 12, three men abducted him in Jamestown, drove him around for hours and then let him out, she told The Union Democrat several years ago.
Two years before he disappeared, he fell down a 100-foot mine shaft off Jack Page Road into 5-foot-deep pool of water, where he stayed for 42 hours. A rescue team from Los Angeles was able to pull him out.
In 2015, Sandy Lee published a book about her son’s disappearance and the family’s search for answers. A portion of proceeds from “No Stone Unturned; a Mother’s Quest” goes to an annual scholarship for a Sonora High student interested in studying criminal justice.
She also was part of a group that founded an annual event for families of people who are missing, which in September will be held in a garden near Black Oak Casino.
“I never want my son forgotten,” she said.
QUESTION: Why can’t the flea market go back to the Sonora fairgrounds? It was good for buyers, sellers and the local economy. It was a good market and people would come from other counties to participate.
ANSWER: The flea market ran each weekend for nearly 20 years at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, first as a for-profit business and then as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club. About 40, sometimes as many as 50 vendors set up to sell yard-sale-type items, crafts and tools. During the seven or so years the Kiwanis ran it, proceeds went to the Kiwanis community service fund.
In 2007 or 2008, as the recession gained strength, the state, which owns the fairgrounds, wanted to raise the rental price. Al Smith, who managed the market for the Kiwanis, said he couldn’t make it work financially and moved the market to an empty lot at the Walmart two weekends a month and The Junction shopping center on the other weekends.
Now it operates at Mono Village Shopping Center each Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Kathy Nizzoli, office coordinator at the fairgrounds, said it is unlikely the flea market could return because the event would conflict with the RV park and building rentals.
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