Family of missing Middletown man desperate for his return

The 24-year-old hasn’t been seen in more than a month, when he vanished from his mother’s side at a hospital.
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 11:24 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A Middletown family says they’re torn to pieces as the search continues for their loved one who’s been missing for more than a month.

Dakota McKinney, 24, was last seen on March 29 leaving Atrium Medical Center as his mother awaited surgery.

His mother, Mary McKinney, says not knowing where he is or what happened to him is causing the family unimaginable grief.

“Even if he didn’t want to come back home, if I just knew if he was ok, and alive, I’d feel better,” Mary said.

Mary says Dakota was by her side at the hospital after she had a heart attack, and then he simply vanished.

“A lot of sleepless nights,” she said. “Every time it rains outside, I wonder if he’s ok. And then, with him not using his credit card, not knowing if he’s eating…it’s hard.”

Mary says her other son discovered Dakota’s car at a Pilot gas station on OH-123 in Franklin, about five miles from their home, on April 2. Still, no sign of Dakota.

There have been countless searches but no new leads.

“We have no indication of why he would want to leave,” Mary said.

Dakota went missing once before, in February, but his family quickly found him. Mary says her son worked as a machinist and had some problems at his job that were resolved prior to his current disappearance.

“We got everything switched around and everything still wasn’t ok,” she said. “He’d lost some weight, and he really wasn’t himself.”

Mary says even though he’d expressed concerns about his job, leaving without contacting his mother, brother or any other family member is unlike him.

“He was one that would come home and take him a shower, go out and do a little grocery shopping for me if I needed it. And then come back home,” Mary said. “Never going out to bars or going out partying. He wasn’t that type of guy. Just a straight-laced nerd.”

His loved ones are now making a heartfelt plea for his safe return.

“I just want to know that he’s ok,” Mary said. “A mother never quits worrying about her children. Just know that we love you, and that you’re more than welcome to come home.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Middletown police.

The family is also asking that anyone who believes they may have recognized him take pictures and share them as well as the location they were taken.

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