Aunt fears foul play involved in disappearance of nephew who vanished while allegedly fishing at the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania

By Andrea Cavallier

It's been nearly five months since 31-year-old Alex Mardis allegedly grabbed his fishing pole in the early morning hours the day before Halloween and left his Avis, Pennsylvania home to go fishing in the Susquehanna River. He never returned.

It's a family's worst nightmare for Alex's aunt, Tammy Mackey, of Beech Creek, and his grandfather, Bruce Gray, but Tammy told Dateline they are not giving up.

"It's been a rough few months. Almost five months now. And no answers," Tammy said. "We deserve to know where our boy is. We need that closure."

Alex Mardis, who lived with his grandfather in Avis, Pennsylvania, was last seen by his girlfriend around 7 a.m. on October 30, 2019. His girlfriend told police that Alex grabbed a fishing pole and left to go fishing. He was wearing muck boots, jeans and a bright green sweatshirt.

A few days later, Alex's grandfather reached out to Alex's girlfriend and asked if she had seen him. She told him she had not seen him since he left to go fishing.

His cell phone, which was broken, and his driver's license, had been left behind at the house.

Alex's aunt, Tammy, told Dateline that her father, Alex's grandfather, does not believe Alex would have gone fishing at that time, even though he is an avid fisherman. They said it had been raining so hard that the river's water levels were dangerously high and even the Halloween parade had been canceled.

"I don't believe it for a second," Tammy said about the idea that her nephew went fishing that day. "He knew better and would not have put himself in danger."

On the same day, a water rescue had been issued after someone called 911 and reported seeing a man in the middle of Susquehanna River yelling for help.

State police from Lamar deployed divers and search dogs to the areas around the boat launch in Wayne Township. They found a Muck boot, but no rod or tackle box. Family members continued searches along the shore for days, but no further evidence was found.

The boot was sent to a state police lab, along with items provided by the family to compare Alex's DNA to the DNA found on the boot, but the family said they have not received any results.

"It's been months and we haven't heard anything about those results," Tammy told Dateline. "We just want answers."

Trooper Kim Patterson with the Pennsylvania State Police in Lamar, who is the lead investigator on the case, told Dateline that the investigation is still active.

"This is still an open and active investigation," Trooper Patterson said. "We're talking to people and following tips and leads we receive."

Trooper Patterson declined to comment further on the case.

Tammy, who was lovingly called "Aunt Chip" or "AC" by Alex, told Dateline their family is frustrated and feels something terrible happened to Alex.

"He'll go off for a couple of days sometimes, but he always remembered to call and let us know where he is," Tammy said. "This just isn't like him."

Tammy said Alex especially always kept in touch with his mother, Tanya Gray, who lives in Largo, Florida.

"She can't be here because of her job," Tammy said. "But this is tough on her. She's barely hanging on by a thread."

Tammy told Dateline that they have heard rumors of Alex's lifestyle involving drugs, but said they know him as a kind and loving young man with a good heart.

"He was a good man and he loved his family," Tammy said, as she broke down in tears. "He loved his cat, Jack, and loved to go fishing, and helped anyone that he could. He had a good heart and was getting his life in order."

Tammy said they will continue their own searches and hopes someone will come forward with information.

"We're realistic. We don't think he's alive," Tammy said. "But he deserves to be found. We deserve to find his body and put him to rest. I can't go 20 or 30 years and never find him. My elderly father deserves to know he was found. I'll never give up looking for him."

If you or someone you know have information about Alex's whereabouts, call the Pennsylvania State Police Lamar Station at (570) 368-6000 or call the Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers at 1-800-4PA-TIPS (8477). All calls remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.

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