ALLEGAN, Mich.-- The family of Richard Hitchcock continues to search for his remains as Saturday marks 28 years since his disappearance.
Hitchcock, known as "Richie," was last seen on the night of December 22, 1990 at the Riverfront Lounge in Allegan. Richie's cousin, Kellie Boers says he was asked to leave the bar, returned, then was made to leave a second time. That was the last time he was seen.
At the time, Michigan State Police, the Allegan Police Department and the Allegan County Sheriff's Office did extensive searches for weeks by air, land and water.
“With boats, planes, people, dogs, scuba divers, everything you can think of," Boers tells FOX 17.
Boers says a common belief is that Richie is a victim of homicide. She says he didn't take his last paycheck and even had Christmas presents left in his car a block away from where he was last seen.
There have been reports that Richie scaled an 8-foot fence outside the bar and went into the Kalamazoo River. However, Boers believes doing that without leaving a trace would have been impossible, considering Richie's level of intoxication on the night he went missing.
“We believe that it was, somebody tried to beat him up and accidentally killed him and then they panicked and didn’t want to take responsibility," Boers says. "Thought people would think that they intentionally did it and so they hid his body.”
After all these years, talking about her cousin still brings tears to Boers' eyes.
“He was just a good person. He had a good soul," Boers says. "He wasn’t perfect, none of us are but look at that smile, that’s real.”
Though they don't believe Richie is still alive, his family continues to search for his remains because to them, giving up is not an option.
“Nope, no, no. That’ll never happen, never," Boers says. "He deserves to be looked for and he deserves to be found.”
A Facebook page dedicated to finding Richie's remains has been active for years. Boers says it's hardest during the holidays to not have Richie with them.
“I think the best Christmas present we could ever get would be able to bring his remains home and have them for us, be able to bury them the way we want to, instead of the way someone else did," Boers says.
The reward for information leading to Richie's remains currently stands at $5,000. Boers says their family hopes increase the reward money to $10,000 by this spring.
If you have information about what happened to Richie or where his remains are, call the Allegan County Sheriff's Office at 269-673-0500.