The parents of a Dayton man missing for nearly three weeks are asking for the public's help in finding their youngest son, who has a history of mental problems.
Paul Watkins, 29, a Carson City Wal-Mart employee, was last seen by his girlfriend 9:30 a.m. Feb. 6.
"We're hoping someone will have seen him and call," said father, Bob Watkins.
On Wednesday, authorities recovered Watkins' red 2001 Honda Civic abandoned in the Sunrise Pass area of the Pinenut Mountains east of Johnson Lane.
"It had a flat tire that had been driven on so that the rim was showing," his father said. "It was unlocked, which is pretty uncharacteristic of Paul."
A search Thursday and Friday by Lyon and Douglas counties uncovered no clues as to Watkins' whereabouts.
"They suspended the search, and I understand that," said his father, who was a volunteer for a search and rescue unit in Luray, Va., where the family moved from less than a year ago. "They say the probability of him being out there is very low."
Investigators from Lyon County impounded the car, saying a preliminary search of the vehicle found no suggestion of foul play, Bob Watkins said.
According to his parents, Watkins was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia at 17. If untreated he can become disoriented and is prone to hallucinations.
Before his disappearance, her son had stopped taking his medications, Nancy Watkins said.
"He thought he was doing well enough that he didn't need it," she said.
How Watkins ended up in the Pine Nut Mountains is a mystery to his parents. Nancy thinks he may have been hearing voices and followed them to the spot 11 miles deep into the rolling hills of the desert landscape. When his tire was flattened, he may have walked to the paved road and hitched a ride somewhere, she said.
Initially the family thought Watkins had decided to head back to Virginia, but phone calls to family and friends there have come up empty. No one has heard from him.
Nancy said there has been no activity her son's checking account or credit card accounts since Feb. 5. When he disappeared he had no extra clothes with him and a small amount of cash.
Despite the length of time he has been missing and the discovery of the abandoned vehicle, Watkins' parents are confident their son will be found.
"What we are doing now is trying to get more eyes looking so we can get a report from someone and find him," Bob said.
Watkins is white, 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs 285 pounds. He has short brown hair and blue eyes and often wears eyeglasses. His mother said he doesn't have much facial hair, although without a razor he would have some growth. Watkins was last seen wearing light tan casual slacks, a lightweight long sleeve sweater and white and blue tennis shoes.
YOU CAN HELP
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Paul Watkins is asked to call the Lyon County Sheriff's Department at 246-6200 or by calling Wal-Mart at 885-6700.
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