BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Ten years after William “Billy” DiSilvestro vanished from Butler County, he is still missing, leaving his mother on a mission to solve the mystery, no matter how long it takes or where it takes her.
According to Butler County investigators, Billy DiSilvestro was last seen leaving a friend’s apartment on Ross Avenue in Hamilton in February 2011. His mother, Debbie Estes, says his disappearance has taken over her life.
“Supposedly they drank, and the guy said he passed out, and he woke up and Billy was gone,” Estes said. “He had left his cell phone, and that’s all I know. I mean, he just vanished off the face of the earth.”
Estes said DiSilvestro had tried to call her, and tried to call his grandmother whom he lived with at the time, around 2:30 a.m. Neither of them had a chance to answer his calls. Hours later, he was missing.
Estes is now left wondering what her son would have said to her had she picked up the phone.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been a decade. I’m still living in 2011. I mean, every day I wake up, and I just, he’s on my mind day in and day out,” Estes said. “I can’t believe some of the places I’ve been. I never dreamed I would be doing this. Right now, I’m 62 years old. I’ve been doing this for ten years.”
At first, Estes feared that DiSilvestro’s medical problems had played a role in his disappearance, since he was known to have seizures and needed medication. However, as hours turned into days and then into weeks, Estes sensed that something was very wrong.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, on your worst enemy, this feeling of emptiness,” she said. “It’s like you’re falling, and you never hit the water. It’s just the worst pain in the world for a parent to go through, something you just never know, you don’t know what to think.”
Volunteers from Texas EquuSearch Midwest and beyond helped DiSilvestro’s loved ones search as many places as possible. They have gone into abandoned houses, walked through wooded areas, and some people have even gone underground into the sewer system.
“Railroad tracks, his path that he would normally take, Millikin Woods. I can’t even tell ya how many times we’ve been up in Millikin Woods,” David Rader, the Director of the Midwest TE Chapter, said.
Estes spent countless hours plastering posters all across town, thinking that maybe DiSilvestro’s drinking problem had led him down a dark path.
“He was one of those people, he’s having a great time, he’s life of the party, but then he goes one too many, and he’s totally different,” Estes said.
The tips have grown more and more horrific as time has ticked by. Estes says she has been told that her son was fed to pigs, that he was stabbed and stuffed in a trunk, that he was buried under a sidewalk and that he was beaten with brass knuckles.
So far, none of the rumors have proved to be true.
“Some of the stories that she hears – the mental torture, what she’s thinking when she hears some of these things, is just, it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong,” Rader said. “People should be ashamed of themselves.”
Fond memories and funny home movies have kept Estes going through the years.
“He liked being the center of attention for sure. He was the life of the party for sure,” Estes said. “He loved making people laugh.”
At this point, Estes fears her son is no longer alive. Still, her dedication to the cause knows no bounds. Estes said she has helped the families of others who are missing, as her way of giving back, without giving up.
When it comes to DiSilvestro’s case, from billboards to benches to balloon releases, Estes does everything she possibly can to keep his case alive.
“I share his picture every day. I got magnets on my car. I wear a shirt every day. I’m a billboard. I will continue to do it and won’t rest until I find him,” Estes said.
Knowing foul play is a strong possibility in her son’s case, it can be difficult to keep the faith, but Estes finds a way to stay hopeful, holding on to the idea that a reunion with her son is not impossible.
“I love my son, and if I can do whatever I can to keep him out there, I will, and I will continue to do so as long as I can,” Estes said.
Butler County Sheriff’s Office Detectives did not want to speak on camera about DiSilvestro’s case, but said they are actively investigating it at this time.
Estes said there is a $5,000 reward for information.
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