Donna Sherman, great aunt to Christopher Marks, a 12-year-old boy who went missing Sunday evening in the Meramec River near Pacific and just found a particular tube of lip balm she believes to be her great-nephew's. Patch was on the scene when Sherman made the discovery. Marks is an Affton resident who attends seventh grade at Rogers Middle School.
The significance of the lip balm, Sherman believes, is that it could mean Marks left the water and it fell out of his shorts pocket.
Marks has a twin sister, Anna-Marie, who told Sherman she gave the lip balm to Christopher this weekend prior to the trip to the conservation area and river retreat. Anna-Marie described the chap stick over the phone to Scherman as having a red, white and blue barrel with a U-Gas brand—which is exactly what Sherman found this morning on the gravel road that leads to entrance of the Pacific Palisades Conservation Area. Family members continue to try to think of other clues that made assist officials with the investigation.
For background, see Patch news alert from this morning:
3:25 p.m. Update: Police say they sent divers back into the water further downstream and brought in more bloodhounds to help in the search.
More than 20 first responder vehicles left the area where family, media and police have been stationed near where Marks was last seen over a 15-minute period a little after 3 p.m. A Patch reporter on the scene said she saw St. Louis County K9 units, highway patrol units, resident officers and a St. Louis County DWI enforcement command unit vehicle all leave the scene to an unknown location.
Police officers are still in the area, divers are still in the water and air patrol teams are searching the area from above. The target area is next door to St. Louis Skeet & Trap Club located off Franklin Road. It also is less than a mile across the road from as well as the Missouri Eastern Correction Facility, which is near Dozier Crossing and Business Loop 44.
"Even though we couldn't find any signs of him (Chris) last night, he still could've walked out of here," Sherman told Patch moments before she found the lip balm.
Sherman said Marks was at the river enjoying hot dogs with other kids, ranging from 12 to 16 years old, and one adult when they said they turned around and he was gone. She said there were two rope swing setups near the river.
"We're so hoping he got out of here," said Sherman, who stayed at the accident scene all night. "He was a Scout, and he's been camping. He knows where is from here. He's a tough 12-year-old, and we're praying he got out."
Sherman said Anna-Marie and Christopher shared twin telepathy since they've been young. "They were nothing alike, but they felt one another's pain. Anna-Marie felt Chris last night, but today she's just feeling empty."
Marks was last seen at 7:30 p.m. After search teams, which included Eureka Search & Rescue canine units from Eureka Fire Protection District, the area was closed off at 3 a.m. and declared a crime scene. Missouri Highway Patrol then issued an endangered person advisory.
Editor's Note: Family members told Patch Christopher recently had a short haircut and looks differently than the photo available this morning. From seeing photos of him on family member's cell phones at the scene, he looks older than the photo from the morning and may have a scar now showing on his forehead.