Police say that Matthew Alan Hill, the 26-year-old ministry worker last seen Tuesday, May 24, 2011, has been found alive and is doing well.
According to a story by Raul Rivero for www.wusa9.com, hundreds of people had been searching and praying for the Charlotte native – many of them family and church members at the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. That was Hill’s base for his campus outreach ministry work.
Police tracked him down early Sunday morning in Asheville, North Carolina to too far from his Charlotte home. He was located by Asheville police acting on a call from DC police. Officers found him unharmed and later confirmed that he left on his own “just to get away for personal reasons.”
Holger Hill, Matthew’s father, had come to Washington from North Carolina to join in the search efforts. The TV station said he and other loved ones described how unusual and out of character it was for Hill to disappear without calling anyone.
Acting on that information and the disappearance of his vehicle, police named Matthew Hill a critical missing person, according to police sources. They were informed they may have another “Chandra Levy” on their hands.
Matthew Hill was last seen since he was reported missing by a GW student he was mentoring, www.wusa9.com reported.
Matthew DeGoia said on Tuesday morning, Hill dropped him off in the Chinatown area.
“I’m feeling excited. Today is a great day. God is faithful. God is loving,” said DeGoia, adding that it was frustrating having to repeat the same story of that last meeting and still getting nowhere closer to resolution.
The TV station said he added, “I talked to police. I talked to relatives. I talked to so many different people. It was just sickening to tell the story over and over again to the point where you are just going through the motions, but thank God Matt was found.”
Capitol Hill Baptist Church was packed for Sunday services, www.wusa9.com reported. The 10:30 service ran extra-long, with members finally emerging around 1 pm.
Many who had joined the region-wide search for Hill said they were only relieved that he was found safe and did not express any bitterness.
“I myself expected to be in tears today kind of crying because I was so emotional he’s found,” said Sara Melo-Fis, one of nine women who handed out hundreds of flyers about Hill’s missing outside Nationals Park on Saturday. “Yes, we are extremely overjoyed. I can’t tell you how happy we are, but we came to worship a much greater God too.”
Another church member who acted as one of the “team leaders” for the search groups the last few days summed up the overwhelming reaction from other church members.
“We’re just thankful that God has sustained him,” wusa9.com reported Noah Braymen said. “We don’t know the circumstances of his disappearance – but we don’t really care. We can work that out later. We are just praising God and giving thanks that he has been found.”
Family members did not return e-mails or phone calls on Sunday, www.wusa9.com said.
A church spokeswoman sent out a press release. It read, “We can confirm that Matthew Hill has been found. Matt is alive and unharmed. It is also now clear he left under his own will. Please do not contact Matt’s family today – all enquiries should be directed though the details below.”
WUSA9.com said the release continued, “Those involved in the search thank the Metropolitan Police Department for their help and all the resources they were able to contribute to finding Matt. We appreciate the media’s support over the last few days and we now ask for their understanding (and) respect, particularly today.”