A missing poster for Barbara Nave, who vanished after taking a walk behind her Sumter County home in February 2017. One year later, the search continues for her.

Barbara Nave’s home sits at the end of a dirt road on the outskirts of Sumter. When authorities arrived on the scene, the front door was open and the house was undisturbed.

Two witnesses reported seeing Barbara Nave on one of her walks in the woods near her rural home before she disappeared.

SUMTER – Maria Roberts has always been suspicious about the disappearance of Barbara Nave from her rural home. 

“It was so disturbing because of how sudden it was,” Roberts, a friend of 20 years, said.

Nave, a retiree, had just returned from celebrating her 80th birthday in Savannah with her son on that February day in 2017.  Two witnesses saw Nave walking in a wooded path behind her home before she vanished, according to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.

Her son, Dr. Paul Nave, reported her missing late that night after one of his mother’s friends went to the house and found the door wide open and the house empty.  He headed to Sumter a few hours later.

“I got up at about 4 or 4:30 a.m. in the morning so I could be there when the day dawned,” Paul Nave said.

Sumter deputies met him there and took in the scene: the front door, wide open, her Jeep sitting in the driveway. Two of her three purebred Llasa Apsos dogs were inside the house; a third, which had been ill, was dead.  Nothing inside the home looked disturbed, including her purse.

The search expanded on the ground and in the air, according to Capt. Robert Burish with SCSO, spanning Nave’s 20 acres of land. They used cadaver dogs, who hit on a swamp early in the search. Hours of draining revealed a deer carcass.

That was February 8, 2017. More than a year later, and there are still no answers to Nave’s disappearance.

Roberts drives up from her Kingstree home to Nave’s home once a month. When asked if she comes to check on the house, she hesitated.

“No,” Roberts said. After a long pause, she added, “It’s to make sure people still care.”

Searches happen every few months. The sheriff’s office is planning another search-and-rescue operation this spring or early summer.

“We certainly want to find Mrs. Nave,” Capt. Burish said.

Until then, Roberts will continue her pilgrimage to Sumter, keeping her friend’s search alive.

“I know Barbara would turn the world inside out and upside down to find any of us.”

Anyone with information on Nave’s location should contact the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 436-2000 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-274-6372.