Breaking News
More () »

UNSOLVED | Mystery of the Missing

It's been four years since Michael Gorley's mother last saw him. Four years filled with conflicting information and dead ends. She continues to search for answers.

Michael Gorley's mother has been searching for answers for almost four years. It's been four years since her son walked out of her door. Four years since he said "see you later." Four years since he was last seen.

There are 240 missing people in Kentucky right now -- 145 men and 95 women, all sons, daughter, wives or husbands. Their cases grow cold quickly, and as clues and calls start to lessen, family members often feel like they will never find answers. Sandra Hasty hasn't given up.

Chapter One | The Disappearance

On May 17, 2015, Sandra Hasty saw her son for the last time. Michael Gorley, 38, left the home they shared in Stanford that morning, heading out to a friend's house.

"He said I'll see you later, I'll be back later," Hasty said.

Later that day, Hasty heard a knock on the door. Two women told her Gorley had driven his truck into a pond, and the pond owner wanted it of the water. Confused, she headed out the pond. Gorley's truck was there, but he was not.

By 11 p.m, Hasty still had not heard from her son. She called the friend whose house Gorley was supposedly at, and they told her he was there. Looking back, Hasty does not believe the friend's story.

"I think my son was beat there, was trying to get away and then was run over by a car," Hasty said. "The truck ended up submerged frontwards in the pond. I think they were trying to sink his truck, but it got stuck."

In a moment of desperation, Hasty flagged down a state trooper, telling him she believed her son was missing. According to Hasty and her daughter, the trooper followed up with people, but did not work to find her son, assuming he just left his life behind. The family said there's no way Gorley would do that.

"There is no way. It's like I said, if my son was going to spend the night somewhere, he would say mom I'm here or I'm there and I'll be home tomorrow," Hasty said. "I knew immediately. If they had listened to me from the beginning, this would have been solved -- my son would have been found."

Chapter Two | A Mother's Search

Feeling like police were not doing all they could to find their loved one, Hasty and her daughter set out to find answers.

"When Michael went missing, it was like pulling teeth to get help from law enforcement," Jennifer Coffey, Gorley's sister, said. "We did what we could, within the capabilities of what the law would allow us to do, without putting ourselves in jail."

The family pulled Gorley's truck out of the pond. They went to the house he was last seen at. They talked the people he last saw before he went missing. While on their search, they found Gorley's shoes and hat at his friend's house, something Hasty found unusual if Gorley had run away from his life. 

Frank Thornberry, the detective now on Gorley's case, agreed with Hasty.

"Could Michael Gorley be living on a beach in Australia somewhere? Absolutely. I'm not eliminating that, but the likelihood is no," Thornberry said. "To have a individual just walk down the road with no shoes on, a pair of shorts, and then just disappear into thin air...that doesn't happen."

Hasty and Coffey turned to social media, sharing his story on Facebook and seeking out answers while police struggled to find a body or any evidence.

"The [original] trooper followed up with the people he was last seen with, interviewed them, located the car that he was in at one time," Thornberry said. "So according to the case file, the trooper did what the trooper needed to do in order to conduct a missing persons investigation."

A private investigator helped the family look for clues. The investigator agreed that a missing persons investigation would not help the family find Gorley in a timely matter, making finding any answers hard.

"Probably 90 percent of our cases lately...they're foul play cases. They're murders. They're not handled that way unfortunately," the investigator said. "By the time it's believed to be a homicide, the case has gone cold. The trail is cold, and there's nothing to look at." 

Without a body, or a murder weapon, it's hard to build a case. Gorley's family has yet to find either, putting stress on the family and investigators.

Chapter Three | Keeping Hope

Hasty said she knows her son is dead.

"I know my son's dead. I know he is," Hasty said. "I feel it in my heart, my soul, my spirit. I know he is."

Still, Hasty has not given up hope on bringing his killer, or killers, to justice. She now runs a Facebook group for those with missing loved ones. On "Missing and Murdered Loved Ones in Kentucky," Hasty shares her son's, and thousands of other's, stories.

"I know there's people missing a lot longer than Michael, but he's my baby. Everything I do...is honor of him," Hasty said. "I feel like doing that is like my mission."

Hoping to bring peace to Gorley's family, Thornberry said he continues to work on the case so the family can have a proper burial at the very least.

"I don’t give up hope, because if I give up hope that means I'm done," Thornberry said. "I throw in the towel and that wouldn't be right for the family nor myself."

Thornberry said the lack of information makes his job difficult, remembering the amount of dead ends and conflicting accounts he's had in the investigation. Still, he knows that someone has information that could lead to a body or an arrest.

"What if it was your family member? What if it was your mother, your father, your daughter, your son, your uncle? What if it was them out there missing, and I was trying to solve the case for your family to give closure to your family? I just want the information," Thornberry said.

Chapter Four | Help Solve My Case

Police are still investigation the disappearance of Michael Gorley, almost four years after his death.

"Everywhere I go I have people ask me, 'Have you heard anything else about your brother? Can they do anything about it," Coffey said. "And it's three and half years later, still the same answer. They're still investigating. They still haven't found him."

If you have any information that could help this investigation contact Detective Frank Thornberry of Kentucky State Police Post 7 at 859-623-2404. Sandra Hasty can be reached at her Facebook page, Missing and Murdered Loved Ones in Kentucky.

We're looking into some of Kentucky and Indiana's biggest unsolved cases, and hoping you can help detectives find answers. Visit WHAS11's UNSOLVED series at https://www.whas11.com/unsolved.


Justice for Jane Doe Killing Cowboy | Missing in the Mountains

The Runaway Unanswered Arson | Lost Between the Lines

Tied Up and Tortured | A Secret Sin Possible breakthrough in Jane Doe's case

Before You Leave, Check This Out