He is just one of more than 84,000 missing persons on the FBI’s list, but Fluvanna County Sheriff’s deputies hope someone will remember a detail that will help them turn his story from a missing persons case to a solved one.
On April 8, 2011, Robert Lee Hourihan walked out of his Shannon Hill home at 6:30 a.m., got into his wife’s car and left to meet a friend and possibly go to work in Richmond.
That’s the last time he was seen.
“It’s been nine years and we are still hopeful one day we can find some answers,” said Capt. David Wells, of the sheriff’s office. “No new information but we still believes someone may be able to us find Hourihan.”
Hourihan, 33 at the time he disappeared, stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed about 250 pounds, had blond hair and was sporting a beard when he left his house in blue work pants and gray T-shirt with a pocket. Investigators fear foul play and the FBI case file on Hourihan lists him as a potential violent crime victim.
Hourihan was last seen driving on Route 53 in Fluvanna in a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier, with the personalized plates “TARA MAE,” about 7:45 a.m. that the day. He was last seen 15 minutes later at about 8 a.m. at the E.W. Thomas Grocery Store in Palmyra.
Hourihan never met with his friend. He never made it to work. He and the car disappeared.
The car was found 50 days later and 115 miles away in a Target store parking lot in La Plata, Maryland, but clues to Hourihan’s fate have been few and scattered.
According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, there were 87,438 active missing persons cases as of Dec. 31, 2019. An estimated 44% of those missing are younger than 21 at the time they vanished.
Hourihan’s case is number MP10497. A cash reward is available for information that leads to his whereabouts.
Deputies noted that someone most likely saw or knows something about the case that could make the difference. It has before.
In 2014, the body of missing Fluvanna County resident Jesse Hicks was found in Keene, in Albemarle County 10 years after he went missing. His truck had been found in Nelson County four days after his disappearance.
In 2018, 14 years after Hicks was reported as missing, police arrested an Albemarle County father and son and charged them with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder in Hicks’ death.
Richard Glen Spradlin, 56, and Kevin Michael Moore, 34, have each been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and using a firearm in commission of a felony. Spradlin’s trial is slated to be rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moore is slated for a July 6 trial.
For Hourihan, deputies hope to keep reminding people that the man has never been found.
“Sadly, I have no new information,” Wells said of Hourihan’s disappearance. “I just feel I need to send it out just in case someone wants to share.”