Prayer vigil held for missing Carter County man Victor Birchfield | WJHL

Jayonna Scurry and Slater Teague

2 hours ago

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — People gathered Tuesday night for a vigil for missing Carter County man Victor Birchfield.

Birchfield was reported missing on June 21, a day after Carter County inmate Billy Fletcher walked off the job. Fletcher was captured in South Carolina.

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office believes the two cases are related. Birchfield’s vehicle was recovered in South Carolina after it was spotted in the Clemson area.

On Monday, friends, family, co-workers and community members gathered to pray for Birchfield’s family as they await answers about her whereabouts and how she disappeared.

The vigil was supposed to rally support for the search for Birchfield, but Birchfield’s daughter, Tiffany Cole, said that changed when unidentified remains were found in the Johnson County community of Butler over the weekend.

“I think we all know in our hearts that they belong to my dad,” Cole said. “Again, just having that confirmation, knowing that he’s not somewhere hurting, being able to get those answers about, you know, exactly what happened.”

Cole said he needs answers about his father’s disappearance.

“Negligence is a harsh, strong word to use. But I think for me and for my entire family, a lot of my dad’s friends and people in the community, that’s exactly what happened here,” Cole said. “It was a case of negligence that had the worst possible outcome.”

At the vigil, people wrote down some of their favorite memories of Birchfield, including his high school friend and aircraft mechanic customer, Steve Hopland.

“Victor always did his job right,” Hopland said. “He would tell me, ‘You don’t have to worry about getting the job done right.’ He always did it right. He took care of everything, he always looked after people. In fact, I think that may have gotten him into trouble, because he was always helping others.”

Hopland said Birchfield is irreplaceable.

“He went with me to find airplanes that needed maintenance and bring them here,” Hopland said. “He flew with me. You know, we had airplane problems and we would land in Florida and fly home and Victor would come down and fix the airplane and fly it back home.”

Cole said it’s wonderful to see the support from the community.

“Kindness came easily to him,” Cole said. “The love and support we’ve received from the community since day one has been incredible. I have my kids here today. They’ve been pretty much left out of this whole process because it’s been traumatic. But I want them to see how many people love their grandfather. How many people know what a wonderful human being he is, how many lives he’s touched.”

Cole said many of his classmates from elementary school have reached out to offer support.

“I’ve had friends from high school, military buddies, you know, people from literally all over the United States calling me and saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’” Cole said. “He’s very well-liked.”

Cole said they face a long fight even after the DNA results are known.