STANTON, TN (WMC-TV) - Freddie Whittiemore's family celebrated his 79th birthday Monday without their guest of honor.
Whittiemore walked away from his Mid-South home five years ago, never to be seen or heard from again.
Whittiemore's family says it's like he simply vanished into thin air, and after years of searching and questioning, they want answers.
"Oh it's been hell I'm telling you. It's been a hard time. I can't sleep at night. I wake up in the morning with him on my mind and go to bed with him on my mind," said Whittiemore's wife, Dorothy.
It's been five long years for Dorothy...years spent waiting and wondering whether or not she'll ever see her husband alive again.
"I'm just about to lose my mind, because when he left here, he took my heart with him," she said.
Freddie Whittiemore, known as Buddy to friends and family, loved to take walks. But according to Dorothy, he had trouble walking, often dragging one foot.
Home video shows Buddy Whittiemore taking the walk he took every day, including the day he disappeared.
"He walked every morning down around to the post office and then he came back around this way," his wife said.
On Father's Day 2005, Buddy Whittiemore and his dog Baby Girl hit the street. Whittiemore was last seen walking along this rural road a little over a mile from his Stanton home.
When Baby Girl returned to the house an hour and a half later, alone, the family knew something was terribly wrong.
"The quintessential definition of frustrating, what do you do next, who do you talk?" asked Goodman. "Did he fall somewhere due to his health? We have looked, walked miles, looked in every ditch, culvert under every bridge, barn, shed, knocked on doors, everything."
"My gut tells me somebody killed him or he'd been back home," Dorothy Whittiemore added.
Whittiemore says her husband suffered from the early stages of Alzheimer's, but he knew how to get back home. Sometimes he'd get a ride back to the house, and he always offered money to whomever picked him up.
"There's a lot of drug people around here and he always had a little money in his pocket. Some of these (people) will break your necks for a five dollar bill or a dollar bill if they on that crack and they want to get a hold of some of it," she said.
Family members say the "not knowing" is killing them. Julie Goodman has a bag filled with information about her father's disappearance. She hopes someday to put the bag away - for good.
"We're not interested in justice right now, it's just peace, knowing where he's at," she said. "There's no closure, no peace, you're always missing something."
Both the Haywood and Tipton County Sheriff's department have assisted the Whittiemore family over the years in the search. And more recently, Texas Equusearch has gotten involved in this missing person's case.
If you have any information about the whereabouts of Freddie Whittiemore, call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.